That's part of the band's aesthetic, of course, but the minute-long tag at the end of "Bad Apples," following a push-and-pull tension of "wandering through the broken down garden," does hint at what these guys could do with pristine instruments and terrific microphones. It's melancholy and minor, with a western acoustic guitar and keyboards like a digital xylophone that lend a dusty and rambling presence.
Is all of the fuzz a crutch? When the vocals are mixed, as in "Under a Cartoon Sky," so that there aren't so much harmonies as accompanying voices, are we being denied a certain amount of pretty? Is there a Lightning Seeds or World Party here just waiting to bust out?
In the end, I don't think so. Good Kids Sprouting Horns want you to be a little uncomfortable. It isn't just the psychedelic vibe they give off on "Homesick" and "Miniature Cowboys" that might remind you of the Doors. They also share that band's desire to take you out of your element, both with a sinister vamp and lyrics like "let my blue blood seep from my open pores," which isn't actually as maudlin as it reads.
It's Bitetti's believability that lets him succeed with the mumble he uses to begin "Cartoon Sky," paired with a heavily reverbed banjo and gradually getting less sleepy as the song progresses. "Will I be/Just like you," he wonders, hoping against hope. Seems unlikely.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at email@example.com.
WE ARE ANIMALS | Released by Good Kids Sprouting Horns | with Marie Stella + Theodore Treehouse | May 27 | at SPACE Gallery, in Portland | with Wesley Allen Hartley and the Traveling Trees + the Milkman's Union | May 28 | at the Oak and the Ax, in Biddeford | goodkidssproutinghorns.com
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