Sometimes all it takes is a tortured soul to make a brilliant album. But in the case of Warlocks frontman Bobby Hecksher it was the relentless schedule of touring the globe for the past couple of years, where in Spain he obtained an ear infection so serious that it almost permanently cost him his hearing. On 2002’s brilliant Phoenix Album the Warlocks bridged a kaleidoscopic gap with psychedelic textures that sunk so deep into the nerves of the listeners that it induced hallucinating patterns within every realm of its sound. This time around on Surgery the druggy aura is still felt but the Warlocks have added just a tad of soul to their sounds as Hecksher spent some time merging the vibe of the whole Brill Building pop sounds into what it is that the Warlocks do best, which is take you on a trip with every song that is heard from them.
The opening “Come Save Us” comes cascading through with laminas of swirling guitars as does the coat of white narcotic primer in “We Need Starpower.” Even the pitter-patter beats on “Thursdays Radiation” can manage to compliment a song so well that can huff and puff like an old train pulling into a station.
But let’s get back to this Brill Building sound that was mentioned a bit ago. You can really hear it in the half-buried vocal harmonies and a case of scuffing feedback on tracks like “It’s Just Like Surgery.” “Gypsy Nightmare” is utterly resplendent thanks to the rhythmic and vocal textures which are evocative of just about any song from Lesley Gore’s catalogue. One can only help but get the feeling that the following track will be stored on the Raveonettes’ iPods. “Angels in Heaven, Angels in Hell” caries a certain twinkle to it that will take film buffs back to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance from Back to the Future. The listener will also get a sinking sensation with tender stupors like “Evil Eyes Again.” The Warlocks can even add shoegazer fuzz to spacey serenades such as “The Tangent” and move on to the catchier side with cleaver titles like “Bleed Without You Babe.”
Surgery is like a lost album that should have been played on the Wolfman Jack radio program back in the day, soundtracking the horny exploits of teenagers in the backs of their ’57 Chevys upon “Makeout Hill.” While not as heavily euphoric as Phoenix Album, Surgery still gives the listener a 59 minute slice of life from that of a leather jacket clad, long-haired, west coast hipster who periodically itches various parts of his upper body.