A review of Spooky Cool’s disorienting debut “Every Thing Ever”

Photo by Quentin Rice

Quentin Rice
Contributing Writer

Richmond-based psychedelic rock band Spooky Cool released their debut EP titled “Every Thing Ever” — a two-faced, sinister odyssey of anthemic psychedelic rock, experimental time signatures and ghastly vocal harmonies — Aug. 3. It is the band’s first official release after years of live performances.

The EP opens with “Strange Rooms,” starting with some disorienting mathy guitar riffs that never seem to land on a resolute point. The tune transitions into grungy guitar chords under glistening vocal harmonies by Zac Hryciak and Paula Lavalle.

The next track, “Black Wine,” is a single that has been out for some time. The song begins with drum beats and muted, percussive guitar strikes before opening up into huge, anthemic pits of guitar chords and soaring solos. Some of the guitar riffs create an artificial dissonance by subverting the listener’s expectations and taking new, experimental routes. The lyrics here describe the musical landscape quite aptly, as Hryciak and Lavalle wail,

“A vision of the end / Wish it were a dream / Crashing of the vile waves / Stacked up tall / Casts a shadow over every being.”

“Heaven’s Sway,” which comes next, almost sounds like a demented show tune with its twisted yet playful, bouncy guitars. One thing the band does exceptionally well is effortlessly weaving in and out of sinister and comforting musical passages — this song exemplifies that talent. This dichotomy shows up in many different forms; perhaps the most haunting is the juxtaposition of the gorgeous vocal harmonies singing of bodies writhing in pain.

The EP closes with the eponymous “Every Thing Ever” that contains all of the record’s defining attitudes and motifs. The buildups compare to those of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with moments of striking comfort that rise up from diabolical pits of distorted guitar, bouncy show-tune guitars and harmonies with an anxious space between them that rescue the listener from the often devastating musical backing.

Every idea on this EP feels fresh. Nothing seems recycled and it all fits, despite — or perhaps because of — its juxtaposition. “Every Thing Ever” is a fantastic peek into another realm of devilish Broadway-esque math rock that feels like a trip into the psychedelic, interstellar album cover that accompanies it. It is well worth the long wait any fans have endured.

Photo by Quentin Rice
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