Roky Erickson, the famously broken Austin, Texas pysch-rock pioneer, has occasionally sent back transmissions from the strange lands to which he wandered after much electric Kool-Aid and forced electroshock. His last semi-lucid album, 1995’s All That May Do My Rhyme, found him spirited but toned down. Now, the man who cried alien completes his re-entry to earth.
For True Love Cast Out All Evil, Erickson drafted fellow Austinites Okkervil River to help recreate a dozen songs he wrote during and after his stint in a Texas psychiatric hospital. The group—with frontman Will Sheff as producer—defers to the chief, allowing Erickson’s gruff voice to reign over woozy background vocals (“John Lawman”), punchy brass sections (“Think of as One”) and Ebow lullabies (“Birds’d Crash”). Bookends “Devotional Number One” and “God Is Everywhere” flow like hymns from solitary, ripped and remixed from time-warped tapes. Gone are references to the otherworldly abductors that haunted Erickson’s work in the ‘70s and ‘80s; the only body-snatcher in True Love is the paternalistic court system that once upon a daymare locked him up in his own head. But Erickson, whose improbable boomerang to well-being has been documented nearly to death, no longer sounds fazed.