The Chris Robinson Brotherhood have returned with a new album of trademark sticky-sweet psychedelic delights. Servants Of The Sun continues frontman Chris Robinson’s journey away from the ever-present elephant in the room, forming an elusive cosmos of psychedelic musical adventure that’s distinct from his legacy with The Black Crowes, yet entices fans old and new.
Servants Of The Sun bursts opens with “Some Earthly Delights”, a dreamy-toned track that opens the floodgates to a magical, awe-inspiring world of enchantment. CRB have crafted a striking sound, where each instrument holds its own confident monologue and each monologue coalesces into a kaleidoscope of vibrant vision and lavish texture. Whilst of course Robinson’s soul-rich voice will always be a head-turner, it’s the otherworldly keyboard tone of Alan MacDougall that weaves an unmistakable twinkle into the fabric of each song.
With this mystical quality comes a utopian aura. “Let It Fall” holds a minxy yet jubilant groove that holds the dynamic yet serene ambience of a tropical spring paradise. “Stars Fell On California” tumbles into a gleaming track of caressing guitar and glistening keys, and “Dice Game” inhabits ocean-lazing guitar that sways alongside a hypnotic riff. Here, the crisp soul of Robinson’s voice shines, each lyric crystal-clear with every wistful reverie and wounded sentiment. Servants Of The Sun is an effervescent cauldron of brewing magic that steams with a swaddling psychedelic haze, a muddle of influences reaching from southern state country to the exotic Middle East that always holds a futuristic sheen.
However, this charming utopian atmosphere sometimes works to conceal a darker streak, as in “Venus In Chrome”, which bops with a neat perkiness alongside lyrics such as “may the curse you cast make you choke” – though a slight discordance to the melody hints at an unnerving undertone to the quaint nuances of CRB’s sound. This tinge of darkness comes to a head in “Madder Rose Interlude”, an eerie 42-second track of isolated, insanity-denoting sounds. Following this, the album finishes on “A Smiling Epitaph”, a waking glow of peaceful clarity that’s silky smooth and sultry, and eventually merges into a spellbinding blues-funk crescendo.
CRB craft albums that effuse loving companionship between player and instrument, each musical voice expressive and commanding on its own, yet as a band they intertwine to form a stunning transcendental embroidery. Whilst CRB don’t cater to those looking for hard-and-fast earworm hits, Servants Of The Sun is an album that rewards the listener the further they delve into each nook and cranny of its cosmic architecture.
Check out CRB’s latest single, the serenely euphoric “The Chauffeur’s Daughter”: