[PSYCH PUNK] Sun Angle doesn't "write" songs, exactly; it unleashes them, like angry steers from a rodeo stall. While its first album, 2013's Diamond Junk, succeeded in wrangling the trio's amphetamine prog punk in a studio setting, it was still a blur of frantic motion, and the thrill was hearing the band try to ride its own lightning without being thrown in three directions. Three years later, Sun Angle hasn't quite mellowed, but it has learned to better control the chaos. Skullflower opens with the uncharacteristically languid "American Beauty," a mirage of radiating guitars and foggy reverb, and while the slow-rolling pace is an outlier, it forecasts an album more measured, patient and tuneful than its predecessor. Drummer Papi Fimbres still plays like Keith Moon on ayahuasca, but his yearlong sabbatical in Germany seems to have instilled him with a krautrock sense of discipline. He batters his kit with greater focus, allowing individual elements—Charlie Salas-Humara's daydreaming vocals, Marius Libman's ever-steady bass, the surprising burst of horns on "Drink the Moon"—to cut through what was once an all-consuming maelstrom. Sometimes, the band loses itself in a debris field of psychedelic effects. But when it really locks in, like on the snarling closer "Royal Skulls," it proves the chaotic thrill of Sun Angle isn't gone, it's just been refined.
SEE IT: Sun Angle plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Tender Age and Mattress, on Thursday, Oct. 20. 9 pm. $12. 21+.