When the UK rockers of Psychlona dropped Venus Skytrip in 2020, it was immediately swooned over by the likes of the Doom Charts and the Doomies, scooping up nominations for Best Album and Best Album Art.
Much of that was thanks in part to the album’s stunning seven-and-a-half-minute opener, “Blast Off.”
With its bottomless energy and intricate lead guitar, “Blast Off” was a groovy Space Rock tune with its own cosmic gravity, and that power slipped into the rest of the album by simple association.
So, when Psychlona released Palo Verde last month, I had mixed emotions. I was excited, of course, to see what the band would come up with. But I was also worried. Psychlona had avoided the awful sophomore slump with Venus Skytrip (their first album, Mojo Rising, came out in 2018), but would they manage to write a worthy follow-up?
Palo Verde might not have a new Space Rock genre staple like “Blast Off” to act as a universal crowd pleaser, but the album overall is much stronger and more consistent, avoiding the slow moments of tracks like “10000 Volts” and “Resin” to deliver a tasty cocktail of Desert Rock-infused Space Rock.
Psychlona is a fuzzed-out four-piece from Bradford in Yorkshire, UK.
As a band, they’ve described themselves in a few different ways: “Desert rock from the north of England” (Facebook), “Big heavy sounds of stoner rock desert rock fuzz from Bradford” (Instagram), and “Kebab ‘n’ roll desert rock from Yorkshire” (Bandcamp).
Although the descriptions change, the sound stays the same: Psychlona plays groovy psychedelic Space Rock tricked out in Desert Vibes and occasional Stoner Rock riffin’.
And in the latest episode of The Fuzz Club, Psychlona sent along a couple of behind-the-scenes videos:
Palo Verde Album Review
Release Date: August 19, 2022
Label: Psycho Waxx
Track 1 – Gasoline
“Gasoline” is a high-energy opener featuring fuzzy, Psychedelic guitars and those urgent vocals Psychlona has established over the years. That primary riff propels the song forward, but it’s the swirling haze of Space Rock textures that keep the entire track interesting.
Track 2 – 1975
Even with the same delicious fuzzy Desert/Space Rock as “Gasoline,” “1975” is a more sophisticated song—and you might even hear elements of Lowrider in the introduction. With its intricate riff, solid lead guitar, and awesome build in the second half, “1975” quickly earns its place as a lead single ahead of Palo Verde’s full release.
Track 3 – Rainbird
After the rush of “1975,” “Rainbird” is a much slower song, taking its time to establish itself and begin moving forward. Fortunately, the wait is worth it: “Rainbird” has one of the best solos and conclusions on all of Palo Verde, and its second half is arguably the highest point on the entire album until we reach the powerful conclusion of “Warped.”
Track 4 – Meet Your Devil
After its soft introduction, “Meet Your Devil” is a heavy, powerful track that pushes the album’s Desert/Space Rock to the verge of moody Doom.
Track 5 – Purple River
“Purple River” is a dreamy and Psychedelic romp with layers of guitars and the occasional punchy chorus. Although “Purple River” never quite crescendos in the way you’d expect, it does conclude on some energetic and heavy palm-muted riffing.
Track 6 – Jetplane
“Jetplane” appropriately jumps out of the gate with upbeat jumps and bouncy, energetic guitars. The track eventually tears into a lively chorus reminiscent of Rock ‘n’ Roll classics like ZZ Top or AC/DC.
Track 7 – La Tolvanera
With a name that translates to “Dustcloud,” “La Tolvanera” is another slow and steady Space Rock tune. Dreamy and Psychedelic, “La Tolvanera” occasionally sounds like an overly fuzzy King Buffalo, carefully crafting beautiful soundscapes and delivering pummelling riffs.
Track 8 – Warped
“Warped” is another big Fuzz Rock/Space Rock song mixing in intricate guitar flourishes. Running just over seven minutes, “Warped” earns album closer status with two excellent guitar solos—including the fantastic final solo that stands toe-to-toe with the solo at the end of “Rainbird.”
Final Thoughts on Psychlona’s Palo Verde
Final Score: 8.5/10
Standout Tracks: “1975,” “Rainbird” and “Warped”
Pros: The musicians in Psychlona are masters of their sound. They’ve taken the fuzzy, energetic Space Rock and Desert Rock elements of Venus Skytrip and refined them for Palo Verde—and they’ve done so while enhancing their songwriting.
Although the majority of Venus Skytrip paled in comparison to the powerful energy of “Blast Off,” Palo Verde is much more consistent.
Cons: Palo Verde is certainly stronger overall compared to Venus Skytrip, but there are still opportunities for improvement. Some of the ideas here, like the moody, punchy conclusion to “Purple River,” feel unexplored. Fleshing out Palo Verde’s best ideas could have made it a stronger album overall.