The debut album from Psychic Graveyard is called Loud As Laughter. The title is misleading, and the band-name inspires a cock of the head. There’s a lot going on in this band. The emotional and sonic charges are not small. This shit is way louder than laughter.
Having already heard a couple of these tracks remixed by LIARS – whose reworking of the title track is purely stellar – and MSTRKRFT, who took ‘Dead in Different Places’ for a spin – the rest of this album is calling out for further work. A debut with this level of in-grained texture, clout, and cultural awareness is rare. That all of this happens around such a noisy, cacophonous swell of sound is refreshing.
Eric Paul, Paul Vieira, and Nathan Joyner wrote these songs with a country between them. From San Diego Joyner would send frameworks of songs to Vieira and Paul over in Rhode Island. Parts would added, and a kind of creative ping pong happened. It’s almost possible to hear the pressure of sediment layers being added, and added to, and added to again. Often it’s easy to hear the angular bones sticking out to the softer parts of tissue. The audacity of taking each track to its load-bearing limit is possibly enhanced by this remote construction. The result is fucking sound.
Screeches, wails, glitches, screams. It sounds like the first option in all songs was ‘dismantle expectation’. Beats are solid, sometimes they dissolve, but they always remain informative. Sound beds are often distorted, but they’re always emotive. Vocals open up a personal, confessional landscape. At times the caustic nature of all of this may feel too-close to ranting – but the art, the melodic sense that sits beneath and above the process is high – and the result is an album of back to back brilliance.
“Your kid is a school shooter in the making…” is a line that no one wants to hear, and so Eric Paul squeezes it out. “…he has that right-wing look in his eye.” is a line that many of Paul’s contemporaries will wish they wrote. ‘Sleeps with knives’ isn’t the only explicit moment where uncomfortable truths are made compelling, but it’s one of the best tracks on the album. Dreams are downsized, the American Dream isn’t as much dismantled but kicked on the floor as it dies. Surely, if something is so easily beaten it was never really worth all that much?
Psychic Graveyard have delivered a perfect, challenging, audacious record. This is just the kind of album that should be on album-of-the-year lists. It’s niche, it’s nuanced, and it’s definitely not for everyone. It is exactly the kind of behavior that should be encouraged in artists. Loud As Laughter, is the result of crafting raw insight into incredible shape. Not everyone deserves this record.