The Citradels are conjured from Melbourne Australia and churn out their much-needed “anti psych wimp rock”. Here’s looking at you, Tame Impala. They dropped God Bless in January of 2018, the bands 8th album since coming together in 2010.Their sound is fresh and eclectic. Claiming they were influenced by the Kinks, Brian Jones Massarce, Jesus and Mary Chain and the versatility of Brian Wilson, you can hear that jangly surf rock gene coupled with a little shoegazing and more than a little Davies Brothers harmonizing. A righteous combination? You fucking bet.
Listening to God Bless is like a road trip across an alien, but strangely familiar, countryside. No two vistas are the same. Some roads are smoother than others. But it all makes for a trippy ride. The songs on this album never mimic one another, dicing out various flavors from song-to-song and sometimes riff-to-riff. The band is the brain child of Sunny Down Snuff. Snuff is a musicians’ musician practicing every day and fine tuning his musical prowess. “If I’ve got to work a shitty job for the rest of my life, but I can keep making music, then I’ll be happy doing it,” the truly utilitarian budding psych god has stated. Over the course of 8 years Snuff has gone through 15 band members but has landed on a tight quintet consisting of Snuff, Rhys Young, lead guitarist Curtis Goodfellow, bassist Sam Heathcote, and drummer Alex Pijpers. The band states the album is a “concept album of sorts [which] abstractly explores themes of influence, religion and morality through characters from a small town gradually falling out of touch with its surrounds.” In a major rarity since the days of The Band, each member takes his turn as the front man and switch up instruments, which lends to the diversity of sound styles on this album.
“Holy Ghost” feels like it belongs at some sort of eulogy, with the Hammond going full blast and Gregorian chant harmonizing on the chorus of, “We love the holy Father”. It’s a bunch of rock star altar boys singing like a psychedelic choir. In an interesting turn of events the next track, “God Bless”, is soaked in surf guitar, Beach Boyesque goodness, with a spoken word vocal dominating the track. “Believe and Receive” has an ethereal lush atmospheric sound that may gaze at its shoes but never veers into “hey we’re doing The Charlatans here!” territory. Wonky synths pull up on twangy guitars to rush this song into your system, and the sudden fade-out hits you off guard in just the right way. “Roman Holiday” takes on a Parquet Courts slimmed down vibe but inject an aching guitar line that would never be invited into their Court. Monotone vocals give way to a rolling rhythm dipped in gauzy harmony. The result is both infectious and slightly disorienting. “GRC” has the band morphing into ’60s heady garage rock land. Taking some harmonizing notes from Darling Side, they really spin this one out into unexpected territories. “Pictures of Uncle Arthur” is reverbed to the core, with an Australian accent showing through in the crisp vocals combined with layered melodies, strings, what sounds like a slide whistle, and an effective blast of a trombone spinning out into Abbey Road territory. “Post War Preschool” is a trippy af space case number that doesn’t let the vocals come in until the 3:02 mark. Penultimate track “Dawn Chorus” mashes Byrdsian chimes with rhapsodic harmonies in a hymn-like finale that could have done another ten minutes and not worn out its welcome.
What makes this band unique is their willfully stubborn lack of singular style. If I hear Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, another fine Australian band, I know its them. If I hear different songs from The Citradels I might not be able to tell which band is playing. And here lies the chaos magic spun by Sunny D and Co.