Recommended If You Like: MGMT, Glass Animals, Jamie xx
Turning on Psymon Spine’s debut album is like stepping into Narnia: Fascinating colors and vibrant sounds delight the senses as we enter a brave new world. Ethereal synths envelop our ears, fat basslines pulse through our bodies, dreamy guitars tingle our imaginations, and rich vocal melodies swim circles above us in perfect harmony. Psymon Spine have done what so few artists ever do, redefining the laws of recorded music in creating a stikingly different, alluringly unconventional album that establishes their artistry as truly one-of-a-kind.
I don’t understand why you think
Nothing in your life is changing
Maybe there’s something you’re missing
Who can tell if you won’t listen?
You’d not feel so strange if something
Deep in your mind wasn’t shifting
Spring is coming, days are longer
Cold is not as deep as you thought
– “Shocked,” Psymon Spine
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering You Are Coming to My Birthday, the debut album from Psymon Spine (out June 9th via Graham Dickson’s (Crystal Fighters) label Axis Mundi Records. Founded by Peter Spears and Noah Prebish while on tour in Europe for Prebish’s other project, Karate, the experimental pop group wrote their first song in a Parisian Hotel, and were offered their first record deal after playing their London show.
That was back in 2013; since then, Psymon Spine’s lineup has expanded to include Devon Kilburn, Nathaniel Coffey, and “Brother Michael” Rudinski. The past four years have seen the Brooklyn-based quintet writing and recording, touring, DJing, and performing alongside artists including Mr Twin Sister, Crystal Fighters, and MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden.
You Are Coming to My Birthday is the culmination of years’ worth of creative energies, trial and error, and so much more. The record is immediately engulfing – in the band’s own words, it’s supposed to feel “like walking into a jungle.” Psymon Spine incorporate house music, hip-hop, West African music, Tropicália, gamelan, punk, rock, spoken word, and more into what is ultimately an utterly unique, completely undefinable smorgasbord of musicalia.
And the speaker’s blown
Silent flow inside of my home
And I feel the tone
Vibrating through my bones
Fall asleep on the floor
‘Cause I don’t really care anymore
I won’t be alone
Even though I broke my telephone
– “Speakers,” Psymon Spine
Like (notably) Glass Animals and MGMT before them, Psymon Spine break the mold every step of the way, by refusing to limit themselves by rejecting all notions of what a song is, and furthermore, what an album can be. Defying any conventional wisdom, they rewrite the rules almost immediately: Opener “Separate” offers a heavy-hitting over crunching guitars a vocal ahhs that recall The Beatles’ summer-of-love defining “Because.” An ending full of guitar feedback flows seamlessly into “Shocked,” which employs a whistled melody and various percussive samples to craft an intoxicating beat before the guitar and vocals completely immerse us in feeling.
We could go on to discuss the kaleidoscopic vocals on the Parisian hotel-written song “Eric’s Basement and Secret Tunnels” or the Jamie xx-like electronic pulses of club banger “Yoana,” or perhaps the jangling euphoria of the breakneck speed “Lines and Lines and Lines End.” The truth is that every song on You Are Coming to My Birthday – whose name takes inspiration from an ominous note handed to a friend of the band by one of her young students – is a little world unto itself, a microbiome full of its own creatures and fauna, realities and fantasies. The only way to fully understand Psymon Spine’s debut album – if ever there were such a sisyphean task – is to indulge in their music time and again, basking in its technicolor dreamscapes and celebrating the creative sonic diversity that bands can still offer, 140 years after Thomas Edison first gave us sound recording.
Frost bites until bitten back
And the storms seize and the lake cracks
And the air hangs still
The sky is clear but the skin remains hidden and bare
– “Eric’s Basement & Secret Tunnels,” Psymon Spine
If anything seems evident from this release, it is that Psymon Spine is an artist to watch carefully this year and next: There’s no telling what music this provocative can do. Listen to the full record through Atwood Magazine’s exclusive stream, and peek inside You Are Coming to My Birthday with Atwood Magazine as Psymon Spine provide their personal take on each of the album’s songs below! Those in the New York area can catch the band performing at House of Feelings’ Northside Festival show at Baby’s All Right w/ Dave Harrington’s Merry Pranksters on June 10th.
You Are Coming To My Birthday – Psymon Spine
:: Inside Psymon Spine ::
We wanted the first song on the record to feel inviting but also a bit dangerous, like walking into a jungle.
This is pretty much just a song about a friend who wouldn’t stop complaining all the time.
In 2015, we were stuck in a shit record deal and wanted to sign with Axis Mundi so we wrote a bunch of songs for our friend’s fashion label (Yoana Baraschi) so we could buy ourselves out. We started this song for that project and turned it into a full song a couple years later.
Eric’s Basement & Secret Tunnels
Peter and Noah wrote this song in a shitty Parisian hostel while on tour with Noah’s other electronic group. It would go on to be the first Psymon Spine single.
Crown A King
Peter wrote this song about his childhood friends and all of their weird social hierarchies.
The lyrics to this one were first written on the back of a frozen yogurt receipt.
Written about a neat little philosophy essay called, you guessed it, ‘The Experience Machine’ (by Robert Nozick).
Devon wrote this after meeting the gang at a party in the woods and joining the band.
Named after a church in Chinatown attached to a now-closed nightclub. Our friends Is Tropical were DJing and we were underage at the time, so a few of us tried to sneak into the club through the church, resulting in a pretty weird night.
Lines and Lines and Lines End
Written with cathartic intent about stressful stuff like anxiety-of-influence and getting jaded with age.
This is our most frog-sound intensive song (so far).
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cover © Psymon Spine