Extranauts are an Irish psychedelic / electronic pop sextet who release their debut album `The Alchemist` this month which takes its inspiration from sixties psychedelia just as much as it does dance music.
The album opens with title track `The Alchemist` which begins fairly dreamily before evolving into a much more dance-oriented pop-tinged offering with an underlying rhythmic disco beat and delightfully swirling keys. An underlying recurring drumbeat and piano key rhythm lay a foundation for `Lazarus` which has lyrics that seem fairly reflective strewn atop. A song about “the hope that things can change, but it is also a warning that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” according to the band so a cautionary tale of redemption possibly.
`Debonair` as its meaning would suggest is confident, stylish, and charming. A quite perfect retro pop song that could sit right in with all the incense and peppermints of those long-gone American West Coast psychedelic pioneers. We have a much more robust nigh on Spector `wall of sound` like submission with `The New Age Of Innocence` which seems a search for something better for the subjects of this narrative.
I read that `Everybody In The Nite` is an ode to the escapism of nightlife and club culture, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, a celebration of that hedonism. It does have a night out or party ambience to it with a delightful percussive underbite with the occasional shimmering guitar chords and synth swathes. We don`t have a cover of the Harry J Allstars trojan reggae classic in `Liquidator` but a much more psychedelic offering that rolls along with whirling keys, guitar solos and rapidly shared lyrics with some captivating backing vocals competing for attention.
`We Used To Dream` is a faster paced introspective electro composition which appears to reminisce on times gone by when life had so many possibilities ahead. We have another contemplative musing with `It’s About Time` which is at times funky with an appealing percussive beat which at times becomes fairly ethereal.
`Talk Me Down` is a meditative slow paced nigh on cinematic submission where a sense of despondency is almost tangible in the vocal delivery, a cry for help possibly. We have the flip side on `Uptight` an upbeat slice of indie rock with the narrator trying to encourage a friend/lover/acquaintance to cheer up.
`Slow Robot` is a love song about how relationships grow, change, and deepen shared against an illusory disco / dance like tempo. There`s a constant rolling throb to `Afterlife` which may well be a contention on the perils of youth.
The album closes out with `FAM` which seemed to be about friendship and the changing dynamics in that relationship. A track that has a number of dynamics itself as it veers this way and that as it evolves.
Extranauts `The Alchemist` is a really interesting listen and with the definition of an alchemist being someone who transforms things for the better, this quartet seems to have ticked all the boxes. I have to admit that Keith O’Neill (guitar & lead vocals), Alan Stacey (guitar & backing vocals), Peter Vogelaar (bass), Edward O’Neill (keys & bass) and Tom Coady (percussion) who make up Extranauts have offered something different, quite refreshing, and fairly innovative from all the post punk that`s shipped out of the Island of Ireland these days. It`s an album that i`m sure I’ll return to over the next few months and discover further hidden depths in it`s layers.
Rating 8.5 / 10