The fifth album from Montana?s finest psychedelic rock export boldly opens with guitarist Jeff Arntsen?s ?Come To My Party,? a sultry, saucy, spider-to-the-fly invitation (Arntsen?s sky-high vocals had me mistakenly thinking I was listening to guest female vocalist Megan Pickerel) that tugs the listener by the heartstrings and yanks them into the ensuing sonic maelstrom of pop, rock, psych, and prog with the occasional sonic experiment tossed in as a thematic linking device. Sequenced as a double-album, the four band members each contributed a short instrumental passage, a musical sorbet if you will, to end each ?side.? ?Decade of Days? is Byrdsian guitar pop which recalls the excitement of those early R.E.M. albums before they became pretentious millionaires (that?s Stipe & Co., certainly not the Brainiacs?yet!) and ?The Boy Who Cried New Town? is all dreamy psychedelia, with keys, strings, melotron-ish synths and multi-dimensional time changes that morphs into a progy suite suggesting a song-story from a concept album is dying to get out. Perhaps the groundwork for their own ?Lamb Lies Down on Broadway?? Guitarist Colter Langan?s gentle, acoustic ?When The Summer Comes? ends side one on a high note.
Fans of The Green Pajamas and Norway?s Dipsomaniacs will love the big, fat, slow-motion pop/psych of Langan?s ?Open Your Mind? and Megan Pickerel adds just the right feminine touch to this macho boy?s club on Career co-owner and head Brain surgeon Ron Sanchez? disjointed, but frequently Zappa-esque heavy metal workout, ?Penny For Your Thoughts? (kudos to the ?dangerous guitar? of longtime associate Richard Treece). Langan?s gravely vocals on ?When You?re Falling? recalls an early, pre-whine Michael Stipe and again lassos in the R.E.M. contingent. While it?s not an area the Brain should visit too often, it certainly demonstrates their pop sensibilities and will definitely attract a more commercial element. Sanchez ends the first ?album? with the title track, and if you think it was in any way, shape, or form inspired by the opening sonar bleeps of its Pink Floyd-inspired title, you?d be right.
Album two opens with a brisk Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers aroma wafting across Sanchez? ?Invisible Diamond Man,? although the rousing ending kicks the jams out of those muthah-fuckahs! Arntsen?s dreamy ?Control,? with Pickerel returning for some gorgeous, mellow harmonizing (?Megan would like to be in the band, but it's suppose to just be us four guys? says Sanchez), drags a pallid hue across the brain suggesting that descending into that catatonic stupor wasn?t such a bad idea after all. If there is any complaint from this listener it?s that the original 15-minute version had to be whittled down to an abrupt six. But more on that later. Side three ends with drummer Ron Craighead acoustically strumming along to an abbreviated, barely audible reading of ?The Little Prince.?
The final side finds the band donning their dancing shoes for the rollicking power pop souffle of Langan?s ?City Morning,? featuring a blistering solo from former Windbreaker, Bobby Sutliff. I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the band?s sequencing decision to emulate four sides of a double album, with the more accessible pop tunes opening each ?side,? the quirky, genre-defying middle tracks (of which Arntsen?s ?Rezolution? is one of the better efforts), and the extended, exploratory prog/psych workouts bringing up the rear, particularly the album-ending group composition, ?Bondi Tombstone.? Building on Sanchez? wah-wah, Eastern-flavored fbx guitar solo, the track builds to an ecstatic guitar summit featuring acoustic (Langan), lap steel (Arntsen) and slide (co-Career founder Deniz Tek) guitars all heavenbound for glory.
A magnificent disk that marries the nostalgic joys of discovering the hidden wonders inside such unforgettable precursors as ?Blonde On Blonde,? ?The Beatles,? ?Exile On Main Street,? ?Tusk,? ?Layla & Other Assorted Lovesongs,? and ?Electric Ladyland? with the contemporary attack of a band at the peak of their powers. As with most double albums, there?s a little something for everybody, whether your tastes run to pop, psych, prog, blues or avant garde and Donovan?s Brain are equally adept at each of these genres. As an added bonus, the band have included a live DVD performance disk that captures an extended studio version of the aforementioned ?Control,? along with videos for three tracks from the equally essential Penny Ikinger album, ?Elektra.? 9/10 -- Jeff Penczak (1 July, 2005)