Home Music Music Album Reviews

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets Hit Their Zenith on ‘Night Gnomes’

On their fifth album, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets have not only ventured into new territory, but proven there’s nothing they can’t do expertly.

It was only back in February of 2021 that Perth’s Psychedelic Porn Crumpets released their fourth album, SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound. Of course, any fan of Aussie psych-rock will tell you that’s almost an age compared to what else is coming out each year. For Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, it’s not a matter of quantity, it’s about sheer, mind-melting quality.

By now, we all know the story of Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. Launched by English-born Jack McEwan as a “solo bedroom project during a period of procrastination between uni studies”, the project soon took on a life of its own. Fast forward a few years, and the group have been touring the world (COVID-permitting), unleashing a seemingly-never ending run of accomplished tracks, and having their name cited amongst the likes of Tame Impala and King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard when it comes to putting Aussie psych-rock on the map.

2021’s SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound was an undeniable peak in the group’s career though. Peaking at #4 on the Aussie charts, and even nabbing an ARIA nom for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album, it heralded the start of the next step in the group’s evolution. Where do you go when you’ve achieved such monumental success? Well, the answer appears to be, “Write an album called Night Gnomes.”

First announced in early February, Night Gnomes arrives as the fifth full-length album from the group, and while it doesn’t quite live up to McEwan’s promise of delivering a record full of nothing but “Tool, Mars Volta, Karnivool-era” riffs, it’s a collection of songs that showcases every sonic aspect of Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, and underlines the fact there’s nothing they can’t do.

The soaring chorus of single “Bubblegum Infinity” (described by McEwan as the “cute little playful member” of the record) stands tall as one of their most euphoric moments, and effortlessly sits alongside the acoustic-based “Dread & Butter” – itself something of an accomplished sonic shift.

As McEwan explains, the record itself was written during another year of lockdowns in Western Australia, and was informed greatly by his sense of isolation and mania, alongside the lack of normalcy that being on the road brings with it. As such, it’s a record that should almost be darker, jagged, and uneven in its sound. Truthfully, it is, given its varied collection of sounds, but that’s exactly what it is that serves the record so well.

“I reckon this record has a bit more of a KID A/Amnesiac vibe to it, it’s a bit weirder, a little left of the ‘psych/pop’ world we’ve been tagged under,” McEwan explained in a statement. “I kinda like that though, forever expanding, variety is the spice of life! It starts moody, talks of break ups and new relationships; gets kinda chirpy in the middle and then ends really beautifully, a bit like Jurassic Park 3. I reckon Spielberg might actually rate it, he’s a mixture of a bag, ain’t he.

Indeed, Night Gnomes is a record of expansion; be it the greater focus on melancholic pop melodies, the genre-shifting nature, or the slick production. In fact, it’s the increased focus on production which helps to turn Night Gnomes into such a powerful release, with its gritty riffs being complemented by the smoothness of the tracks themselves. Ultimately, it’s a record which not only feels exciting to listen to at every turn, but its sonic focus makes it an immense pleasure.

At its core though, Night Gnomes is a record that represents the next chapter in the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets story. If you’re searching for nothing but an all-out aural attack full of riffs and crushing psych-rock breakdowns, you won’t necessarily be disappointed, but you’ll be treated to the other sonic side of the group. Blistering psychedelic freak-outs like “Bob Holiday”, “Lava Lamp Pisco”, and “Acid Dent” will take you by the hand into the group’s latest era, before the likes of “Night Gnomes”, “In Dream Out”, and “Slinky Holy Water” show you what else they’re capable of.

Previous albums might have told us that psych-rock is safe in the hands of Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, but Night Gnomes tells us that the state of Aussie music is in fine form thanks to their existence.

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets’ Night Gnomes is out now.