Psychic Reality - Chassis (2015)

Psychic Reality - Chassis (2015)

Artist: Psychic Reality
Title Of Album: Chassis
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Intercoastal Artists
Genre: Electronic, Indie, Psych Pop, Female Vocal
Quality: 320 / FLAC
Total Time: 40:25 min
Total Size: 101 / 225 MB
01. Life Is Long (5:19)
02. 90 Regina (4:06)
03. Island (4:02)
04. Sueño (4:28)
05. Bambini Art (4:48)
06. Wet on Wet (3:29)
07. Harness (4:52)
08. Wipe out + Call (4:19)
09. Index of First Lines (5:02)
Leyna Noel's first album as Psychic Reality was called Vibrant New Age, but the music sounded more like fuzzy new wave, or maybe lo-fi disco. Pulsing with rattling beats, blurry neon synths, and Noel's skyward voice, it fit snugly into chillwave’s turn toward the dance floor. That move was spearheaded in part by the label 100% Silk, a sub-imprint of Not Not Fun (which released Vibrant New Age) led by L.A. Vampires' Amanda Brown (Noel’s bandmate in Pocahaunted). So the whole scene had a family vibe, and Vibrant New Age carried the bloodline well.
That movement has died down a bit, but on Noel's second album, Chassis, she holds firm to that style while trying to push it further. Her music is now grimier and denser, and it’s more inventive, more willing to color outside its own lines. The best moments throb with rhythm and soar with melody, conjuring an alternate past where new wave and disco burrow happily into the dirt while staring beatifically at the sun. Noel can mellow her grooves too, but with mixed results; her slower, less beat-driven material is uneven and prone to stasis. But overall Chassis generates more energy than it saps, and pumps more blood than it drains.
Noel finds electric power in pounding, nerve-tweaking tracks like escalating opener "Life Is Long" and the beautifully bouncing "Bambini Art". Here she seems laser-focused on inducing hypnosis by a thousand cuts, with every sound contributing to an overall hazy cloud of entrancement. "I have not slept a lot," she sings at one point, and it sounds like it. Her busy mix is aided by talented collaborators—particularly M. Geddes Gengras, who is credited on one song with "stuttering" and another with "wizardry"—but this is clearly Noel’s show, as her personality seeps through every pore.
That personality is obsessed with danceable retro-pop, but Noel avoids anonymity by burning the edges of her sound and drenching it with atmosphere. In this way she shares a sensibility with Meghan Remy of U.S. Girls. Both are unafraid to boldly echo the past through their homemade filters, confident that their own distinctive characters will make the music rise above mere homage.
Only when Noel calms things down does she risk losing that character. Slow-burning tracks like the tropical ballad "90 Regina" and the distant "Sueño" are admirable attempts to change pace, but they come off inert, like balloons in search of helium. Some of her restrained tunes do lock in well, though, and Noel wisely ends Chassis with her best one, the gripping "Index of First Lines". The key is a detonating drum machine, which provides such an intriguing spine to her torch-song purrs that it keeps the tune from ever sitting still. Chassis doesn’t always motor forward that well, but when it does, Noel’s creative restlessness is potent fuel.

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