The penultimate band in modern-day psych rock are back with Avatar, their second album for Sub Pop Records. Whereas 2004's Blue Cathedral showed Comets moving away from the earlier Monoshock-inspired full-on face-fuck, Avatar delves even deeper, searching for that elusive "life groove." The major mindblower here is the vocals of singer/guitarist Ethan Miller, who has somehow stepped off the ledge and landed in pre-stomach-pumped Faces-era Rod Stewart. Either Miller's singing has been getting better over the years or the echo-electronics chaos of Noel Von Harmonson is being stripped away just enough that his brother can breathe a little. Either way, it's a step in the right direction—now you can almost sing along. Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) cuts a swath on some of these tracks—especially "Jaybird"—proving that guitar heroes aren't dead, they just smell that way. Said tune also finds us being treated to some of the most insane one-man drum-circling of recent memory, as Utrillo Kushner employs a train-hopping roll that is precise and completely chaotic, stopping time on a dime. As always, the band is larger than the sum of its parts: Avatar shows Comets blazing a trail so far ahead that the rest of us are left grasping for the tail.
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