On Cobra Juicy, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s LSD-vision vocoder jams get a whole lot more user-friendly. The mysterious Pennsylvania quintet have never been afraid of alienating their audience with their trippy electro-pop experiments, but their Kickstarter-funded fifth album is a surprisingly linear beast, driven by sticky choruses and bottom-heavy beats—plenty of earworms to offset the weirdness.
Frontman Tobacco still filters every vocal line through vocoder so thick, you can barely make out the lyrics (which is fine, really—why spoil the fun with words?), and on the whole, BMSR’s chilly brand of electro-pop isn’t likely destined for mainstream appeal—nonetheless, they’ve built on the promise of their previous effort, 2009’s Eating Us, by tightening the song structures and punching up the production. “Windshield Smasher” pits hilariously raunchy, Gary Glitter-styled guitar crunch against blaring synth-bass, morphing through proggy tempos shifts while never losing grasp of its hummable hook. “Gangs in the Garden” is funky to the point of absurdity, riding a dementedly fuzzy synth-bass pulse that’ll blow your speakers or impregnate them. “Hairspray Heart” is their sharpest, fiercest track to date, with a borderline-rapped chorus and nasty laser-beam synths.
And there are subtle expansions: With its junkyard slide-guitar opening, “We Burn” starts off like Odelay-era Beck before settling into a psychedelic groove; “Psychic Love Damage” is slow-motion electro-pop hallucination, with a chiming guitar line and synths that spiral in wild arpeggio contrails. But Cobra Juicy is definitely their own warped version of a “pop record”: It’s no coincidence that the album’s least effective track, sleepy closing ballad “Spraypaint,” is also its longest.
“We can go fuck up the neighborhood / smash all the mailboxes and headlights,” Tobacco sweetly coos over a breezy, psychedelic groove on “Dreamsicle Bomb,” the world’s least likely soundtrack to an old-fashioned mailbox-smashing. Cobra Juicy leaves you sonically stoned, in a good way—good luck even getting off the couch.