Audio Mixer: Jason Quever.
From its origins as the experimental recording project of drummer/producer Will Halsey (also of the Blank Tapes), Oakland's Sugar Candy Mountain have evolved into a full-on neo-psychedelic pop outfit co-chaired by Halsey and singer/guitarist Ash Reiter. Pastoral in the most Californian of ways, the group exudes breezy coastal vibes via dreamy, laid-back song structures, hushed vocals, and a host of retro psych elements. Their sound is not dissimilar to '60s-indebted acts like Tame Impala and Jacco Gardner, and they freely cite influences like Brian Wilson, the Flaming Lips, and Brazilian experimentalists Os Mutantes. While 666 is technically their third LP, their self-titled 2011 debut was largely culled from Halsey's early home recordings, and it wasn't until 2013's Mystic Hits that the band's core sound was really introduced. Although the impact of Tropicalia is less emphasized, 666 essentially picks up where its predecessor left off, melding detailed pop arrangements with a myriad of spacy elements resulting in a colorful, pleasantly vintage pastiche worthy of its Bay Area origin. Highlights tracks like "Atlas" and "Being" are fairly mystic and complex without becoming alienating. As co-singers/songwriters, Halsey and Reiter play well off of each other, swapping lead vocals and harmonizing through watery Leslie and chorus effects that expand the sonic palette. The music is rarely straightforward and, at times, the dearth of strong melodic hooks makes 666 come across as a bit too meandering, but at their strongest, like on the excellent "Time," Sugar Candy Mountain offer the psych-pop package. ~ Timothy Monger