Back to Land (Deluxe Version)
The fourth long-player by these drone-rock masters continues where West left off, treading a slightly sunnier path where the bramble and gloom are cleared away as the labyrinthian rhythms carve themselves even deeper in the listener’s psyche. Back to Land opens with the utterly enticing—or should we say entrapping—title track: there’s no leaving once you’ve gotten to the two-minute mark. The churning, blood-warming organ is turned up in the mix, and throughout the record, adding a visceral kind of time-travel vibe to the party. There’s a Doorsy sensuousness to “These Shadows” and a pedal-to-the-floor, Modern Lovers spirit on the jet-propelled “Ghouls”; Ripley Johnson’s pining on “Everybody Knows” is heartbreaking, though he could be singing about the Flat Earth Society or the surety of paying taxes. Burning through the Shjips’ foggy cocoon to decipher lyrics is about as easy as not tapping your foot to their relentless and irresistibly hypnotic metronomic motion. By land or by sea, the Shjips deliver the goods.