Californian-born Azalia Snail gave a great contribution to classy psychedelia with her masterpieces: “Snailbait” (1990), “Burnt Sienna” (1992), “Fumarole Rising” (1994), “Blue Danube” (1995), and so on. The whole of these albums constitutes a peak of the post-hippy era, torn between technological alienation and a new, albeit less explicit, extra-sensorial evasion, and a crucial starting point for the entire psych-folk movement. In the second half of the 90s and in the 2000s the authoress rarefied her extreme harmonic research and offered her artistic persona to collaborative projects.
Nowadays almost serene, Snail let those tendencies run freely and bring it to maturity. Her new project LoveyDove, teamed-up with Dan West (a psychedelic songwriter in the underground scene of Los Angeles, just like Snail did in her early days), basically delivers her first positive and linear album of her career. But this is not triviality or oblivion. In fact, Snail rediscovers even better her natural neo-hippy roots,thanks to songs wrapped in all the magic that pop music requires; sometimes that magic is plain overflowing, andmagniloquent to sound “iconic” somehow.
The operation is certainly not new, but it owns a superiorability. “Sweet Ride”, one of the best, collides the typical pop sounds – bells and keys – with thin atmospheric distortions in which the refrain explodes, in a multi-voices Mamas & Papas-manner. Ditto for the positively Beach Boys-ian “Soft Sun”, with the voices playing hide-and-seek with the hummable and playful backgrounds.
Snail’s Liz Phar-ian conscience is more on the foreground in “Soul Gem”, with the guitar gently caressing the melody, a sort of mini-music with the instruments (also toy-instruments) dancing around the confessional asset of the singer.
“Deep Down Inc.”, a Beach House-like duet slowcore, but augmented with bittersweet sophistications in the style of St Etienne, introduces an almost religious grade. In “Hot Lap” the typical pop languor turns into something that is maniacally robotic and technologic, but keeping a fairytale quality. Thecrisp rigmarole “Founder” recalls thousands pop act whilerevealing a liturgical soul. “Satisfy”, a Tamla-Motown-style slow dance, is sang by a hair to renaissance ascetic.
But in the end “Come Along” practically makes up the mission of the whole album, the wedding of a Claudio Monteverdi’s madrigal and the Beatles’ “Fool on the Hill”,sublimated in a moved refrain, a choral soliloquy by Snail on her own.
From a song by Snail herself (“LoveyDove”, off “Celestial Respect”, 2011). A potential accommodation. It is, indeed, admirable expertise functioning with catchiness: ebullient andclose-knit vocal harmonies, saturated arrangements butpierced with a not trivial melodic key, a not lethal breeze of chaos blowing through the melodic song-form, theatre and vaudeville percolating through the structures. Postmodern traditionalism, one of her favorite communication channel, becomes here a seal of an underrated career. Preceded by a digital single, “Backward Bully” (2013), that yielded also a video (“Sunday Rulez”).