With an abrasive swagger that seeps into the nearby gallop of guitar chords, Streaking in Tongues welcome us into the force that is “Sure as Heaven,” a lightning bolt of adrenaline that starts off their new record Oh My Darlin’ with as big a bang as any I’ve heard all year. The vocals are mixed between the pouncing drumbeat and the fiery riffing, and though they’re a little clearer here than they are in “Nothing Quite Like It in the World,” they’re riddled with just as many enigmas in their lyrical dispatches. We don’t shift gears into legitimate balladry until the drunken groove of “Irrational Blues,” a slow-ticking time bomb that digs as deep as it can with its simple folk hook, starts to play, but the introduction to Oh My Darlin’ is still one of its most exciting segments.
“Sunlight of a Thousand Babies” turns up the heat for another garage rock-style beat that dissipates at the onset of “Damn Machine” so as to allow for Streaking in Tongues to highlight their progressive songwriting skills with a much more calculated rhythm. “Damn Machine” is so bluntly elaborate and yet fearlessly barebones in a couple of its most threatening junctures, which stands in strong contrast to the stoic “My Single Wife” and surreally muted “Screw Up,” but stops short of throwing off the general flow of the tracklist with its experimental structure. “Inside out and on My Ass” signals our transition into the second act in Oh My Darlin’, and while its title might suggest otherwise, I think that it’s actually the most mature and seriously intelligent song here.
Streaking in Tongues were probably listening to Revolver-era Beatles around the time they devised the swing in “Rock n Roll Will Never Love You Like I Do,” but the resemblance isn’t enough to make the song any less of a good time for the audience. “We’re Still Gonna Be All Right” has an oddly gothic undertow that is supported by its glaring bassline, but wedged between “Rock n Roll” and “A Blessing I Can’t Earn,” it makes for an interesting smoke break-length intermission before we settle in for the eight-minute opus “Fear of Limbo.” The drone of the melodies here is the most hypnotic thing that I’ve heard in a while, and though “Wait Wait Wait Wait Wait for Me” keeps the thrills coming at us steadily, they pale in comparison to those generated by this unparalleled progressive anthem.
There’s a little bit of unutilized space in the master mix of “Our Love (Couldn’t Outrun a Train),” but I think that it actually works out well for the climactic rally that commences around the 1:24 mark in the song. Streaking in Tongues throw everything they’ve got at us in this last burst of pop color before finishing out Oh My Darlin’ with the Silver Jews-inspired “I’m Gonna Love the Hell out of You,” which quietly draws the curtains closed on what I feel is an unmissable performance this fall. Ronnie Ferguson and his extraordinarily talented son Elliot deliver a record that borrows equal parts from Songs of Pain, The Velvet Underground, Rain Dogs and A Saucerful of Secrets but is inevitably recognizable as being theirs and theirs alone here. Oh My Darlin’, in all honesty, is a melodic lo-fi masterpiece.
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