Album review: Poetry n’ Lotion, Electric Acres

Poetry n’ Lotion previewed new material last fall with their Octopada EP, and unveils the full-length goods this Friday with the release of Electric Acres. The band’s sophomore album reveals a surprising sound progression from the mandolin-driven post-jazzy rock quirkiness of 2010 debut Kentucky Monkey. Guitarist Matt E. Lee, lowend massager Thomas Murray and rhythms slayer John Nowicki are now joined by trumpeter/crowd pumper-upper Kenny Pullin and Auto!Automatic!!’s Alex Fedele on trombone and percs. The quintet has embraced an even cheekier and more Zappa/Ween-esque kitchen sink attitude about their songwriting along with a more bombastic instrumental presence; Lee now incorporates synths, keys and Rhodes into this repertoire while Nowicki has added glock, whistle and various other accoutrements.

Electric Acres (produced at the late Short Circuit Studios) jumps all over the place, changing moods from track to track, often several times within a single track. But instead of feeling forced or overworked, the album is irresistibly fun. Opener “Circus” rides like a overfilled clown car tilted on two wheels, its off-kilter clash of screwball horns, sinister basslines and fast one-two drums broken up by the clown-chorus of whoops, howls, shrieks, hoots and hollers. The pace picks up with the urgent drive of “Octopoda,” the mix of brass and wet wah wah guitar giving it a vaguely 1970s groove feel that takes a Spaghetti Western turn with moaning horns, rubbery basslines and guiro swipes by Owen Meats, and comes to a Black Sabbath-inspired riff-raging prog-metal close.

The mood continues to vary wildly throughout: “Aah Ha” is a tropicali party tailor made for sipping umbrella drinks on a sun-splashed beach replete with drunken braying locals; “Holiday Housefire” has a waltzing tempo and polka tone with hard rocking breaks; “Tango & Gash” mixes a staccato Latin tango march with fully-charged psych-metal noise; and “Sego Techna” hits a whirring electro sci-fidelic note marked by swinging jazz interludes. On the whole, a rather superb second outing (Critics’ Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars).

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