Cryptacize isn’t a conventional rock band by anyone’s standards. Given that former Deerhoof guitarist Chris Cohen is one of the driving forces in the band’s sound, it’s only natural that the group would stray from straightforward songwriting styles. Yet more than being merely an experimental or, bluntly, “weird” band, Cryptacize is a complex animal. While there’s a definite avant garde sensibility to the band, there’s also a childlike innocence—for an art-rock band, Cryptacize is awfully cute and playful. Yet on second album Mythomania, the trio has pushed beyond the cuddly boundaries of debut Dig That Treasure toward a decidedly more psychedelic realm.
Mythomania is a strong step forward for Cryptacize, yet it’s also an album that draws heavily from some of the most trippy and lush albums of the ’60s. While the elements of Beat Happening and Television Personalities that emerged in their first album are still kicking around in certain corners of the album, they’re sharing real estate with the pristine pop of the Zombies and the heady fuzzy of the Velvet Underground. If psychedelic twee didn’t exist before, there seems no better album for which to coin the term than Mythomania.
Lovely opening track “Tail & Mane” is fairly unassuming, driven primarily by Nedelle Torrisi’s beautiful vocals, though when a flurry of electronic harmony cuts through Cohen’s scratchy garage riffs, the song becomes absolutely transcendent. “What You Can’t See Is,” meanwhile, presents a curious juxtaposition, as Cohen’s sedate vocals and Velvets-y guitar clang are undercut by Michael Carrera’s speedily shuffling drums. With the baroque “Blue Tears,” the trio opts for an oddly hypnotic rhythm juxtaposed with what sounds like zither; were the Zombies and Silver Apples to have secretly collaborated in their heyday, it could have sounded something like this. The title track, meanwhile, is one of the most entrancing, with guitar and glockenspiel dancing around each other in harmony, while Torrisi’s vocals are as gorgeous as they have ever sounded.
With Mythomania, Cryptacize remains an unconventional rock band, but a considerably more versatile one, showing off a broad palette and a seemingly endless quiver of musical ideas within deceptively slender arrangements. While Cryptacize doesn’t often sound like more than three people, it’s impressive just how many aural intricacies they manage to cook up without ever crafting needlessly dense arrangements. Mythomania is the sound of a band that knows their limits, and clearly they’re miles farther out than anyone could have guessed.
Video: “Blue Tears”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.