[PSYCH BLUES] Despite the reservations, sometimes bigger is better. From the onset, Spirit Lake's third album, appropriately titled The Biggening, is more grandiose than the group's past efforts. It's fed by sweeping percussion; howling, distorted solos; and a voice resembling that of Wolfmother's Andrew Stockdale.
Lyrically, frontman Travis Ferguson remains engrossed in the same downtrodden scuffles and crushed sentiments he showcased on the band's debut—merciless death, feeble hearts, unbridled deceit, etc.—but his shrill wail is better suited to this raucous blend of late '60s pop and '70s blues rock than before. "Questions (You Never Ask)," with its swaggering electric guitar and touch of cowbell, shakes like a lost Electric Warrior B-side, before trudging through a distorted, three-part guitar solo strewn with operatic backing vocals. "Hellbent," though nothing more than a two-minute cannonade of bombastic skins and blues riffage, is the perfect homage to a 500-horsepower muscle car, while closer "Crown (Head Like A)â is delivered as straight-up blues.
The Biggening does have its softer moments. "Santa Ana Winds" recalls the burning air that rolls off the Mojave with twanged acoustics and glimmering slide. "I Want Love" expresses longing via slow-burning, staggered guitar and an honest refrain: "I want a love, I want a love, I want a love," sings Ferguson, as the song quietly dissipates, "that won't break my heart." Who doesn't?
SEE IT: Spirit Lake plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Melville and Old Age, on Friday, March 14. 9 pm. $5. 21+.