If it’s possible to rock listeners into blissful oblivion while simultaneously spinning them into deep contemplation, The Deathray Davies is the band to do it. The Dallas outfit’s latest, Midnight at the Black Nail Polish Factory is a musical journey full of dark, grungy psychedelia and fuzzed-out sonic experimentation. The album begins with the ominous piano, xylophone and synth intro of “The Staring Contest,” which promptly gives way to the driving beat of “Gone Against the Tide,” with its raw riffs, string breaks and churning rhythm guitar. On “I Was That Masked Man,” the band channels the acid-drenched sounds of obscure 1968 classics like Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and Pink Floyd’s “Point Me at the Sky.”
The peak of this solid album, the introspective yet overpowering “Low and Silent,” might have catapulted the band to stardom ten years ago. On par with The Pixies’ best material, the song is filled with droning, cathartic melodies that suck you in with the gravity of a black hole. Main songwriter and conceptual force, John Dufilho, sings in his passionately withdrawn voice, “One day found me in silence / I can’t fake what I don’t feel / All this sound is to violence / What borrowing is to steal.” After a brief horn and string interlude, the band punches back in and Dufilho brings it home, third verse same as first, “Don’t follow me low and silent / I’ve been there everyday / For far too long I’ve been quiet / I won’t go back / I won’t say sorry now / I’m not sorry now / I was down in it / Now I’m done with it / This isolation.”
Before the album wraps up with the tiny meanderings of “Just What Is Maggie Thinking?,” the band blasts through “How to win at roulette,” a buzzing sledgehammer sludge-punk anthem so catchy it works with only ten words. Collectively, Dufilho and his multi-talented cohorts Jason Garner and Michael Crow play 20 different instruments on Midnight at the Black Nail Polish Factory. But rather than overdo it, the band tastefully adds varied instrumentation where it fits the mood.
The Deathray Davies’ bio proclaims the band’s objective is to take over all the stereos and stages across the USA. A few more albums this good and they just might have a shot.