Goat – Commune (Rocket Recordings/Sub Pop)
When Goat’s debut World Music came out in 2012 and immediately earned a pile of praise and attention, I had mixed feelings. On one hand I welcome a new Swedish psych band with interesting ideas of mixing Afrobeat and kosmische with voodoo-based costumes and stage show. On the other, the hype they received seemed disproportionate to the overall quality compared with some other bands in the scene. Despite a few attention-stretching lulls in the album, their whole concept was just too well executed to dismiss. They proved themselves with a captivating live show with the amazing costumes, dancing and musicianship. I don’t care whether their claims to freakish cult spiritualism is bullshit or not, they work their asses off to create powerful experiences.
The new album remains committed to the hypnotic Afrobeat on acid theme, and while much of the sounds are familiar, it succeeds by improving on the first album in pretty much every way. The hooks are more substantial, the grooves are groovier, and it sounds harder and even more dangerous, as if modeled after the badass Toureg band Tinariwen but with more lysergic guitar solos. And amazingly, it feels like the lyrics are not just there for decoration, but they truly do have some kind of spiritual message. Mind you, their shouty ceremonial style is sometimes hard to understand, but snippets emerge with references to the human wreckage of war, abuse of power, people living on their knees, and in the spoken intro to “To Travel The Path Unknown,” “the positive force of the constant creation of evolution.” Okay, so maybe these Swedes are more hippy than scary occult whackadoos, but it’s all good when the music gets this great. Especially when it grows fangs like on the excellent, driving and fairly menacing sounding “Goatslaves.” The only thing left for them to master is to come up with some amazing videos that can do their sound, image and myth justice.