Personnel: Nic Niggebrugge (drums).
Recording information: Shadow Shoppe Studio, Zwaag, The Netherlands.
On his debut album, Cabinet of Curiosities, Jacco Gardner showed himself to be the best kind of revivalist. He didn't just unearth the paisley-clad bones of '60s psychedelia, he added a clean perfectly arranged modern feel that made the record sound timeless and up-to-date as well. Like that record, Hypnophobia sounds like a freshly polished psych-pop rarity that was rescued from some musty vault, with loads of Mellotron-colored songs ("Outside Forever") and stately ballads ("All Over") to keep the psych-pop hordes satiated. This time out there's a little more folk-pop in the mix, with tracks like "Brightly" and "Face to Face" having some Brit folk in their brightly strummed guitars and swirling Mellotrons. Another difference is that the reverb and echo are applied a little less heavily this time, which gives the arrangements a crisper, less fussy feel that allows the melodies to come through a little clearer, and lets the poppiest songs really jump out of the speakers. The lilting "Find Yourself" and almost insistent "Another You" are fine examples of this. Elsewhere, Gardner digs in deep and lets himself get expansive on the meanderingly bright candy psych groover "Before the Dawn," which lasts for over eight pleasantly chirpy minutes. He also stretches out on the title track, which revels in layers of creepy-sounding harpsichord. It's good to hear Gardner taking the album in these new, less-structured areas since it provides a nice bit of balance to the midtempo tracks that prevail elsewhere. Despite these small tweaks to his established, well-oiled formula, Hypnophobia feels like a natural follow-up to Cabinet, with Gardner not looking to do much of anything new. Why would he when there is still so much of the '60s to be revisited? And why change when he does such an admirable job of revisiting it? ~ Tim Sendra