3rd album of kaleidoscopic 60s psych pop from Glasgow quartet, feat. members of The Wharves, Nightshift and Current Affairs. Now in their 5th year of existence, Order of the Toad forge onwards with 12 frenetic new compositions, pulled together throughout windows of opportunity during the covid era. Recently a four piece (new guitarist Fionnan joining the Order just before the lockdowns began), Gemma Fleet (Current Affairs/ ex- The Wharves/Kasms) remains the spiritual lynchpin and main energy conductor from which Chris Taylor (Personality Toilet/Open Face), Andrew Doig (Robert Sotelo/Nightshift) and of course now Fionnan (Open Face) are powered. With added twin guitar dimensionality, the band flirt with an 80s new wave sound at times on Spirit Man, garnishing their regular sound with new hues of blue and purple atop the amphibious green of previous efforts. ‘Subterranean’ which opens the set is evidence of a B52s style composite, Doig’s now familiar faux organ guitar franken-sound holding steady beneath the wild and youthful six string movement that Fionnan brings to the toadstool. Elsewhere Taylor takes the lead Vox on ‘Salt of the Earth’, ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ and ‘The Dumbening’, all further progressions of the ensemble’s sound. Song structure and chord elements subtly mutate away from the 60’s nucleus of yore, Taylor bringing a Kevin Ayers meets Bill Callahan vocal approach to his cleverly assembled lyrical narratives, the band weaving about tempos with eccentric colour around him. Of course Fleet’s voice is central throughout, always simultaneous with her precise elasticity on the 4 string bass guitar, providing the likes of ‘Golden Rod’ with a sweeping Grace Slick meets Dolly Parton wail, a hollering Kate Bush style octave leap during the kinetic ‘Fog Horn’ and the fast paced crescendo of hollers at the back end of ‘Beyond the Pale’, a breathless 4 chord slammer. Her graceful and acute vocalisms paint the world of Order of the Toad and never before as vibrantly.
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