words: Michael Brooks
There’s a thin line between paying homage and ripping somebody off, and when you make the kind of music that draws comparisons to classic rock staples such as Thin Lizzy, Queen, and Steely Dan you better have the chops and the nerve to back it up. Thankfully, Chicago rockers Post Animal have an affinity for stadium-sized riffs and a knack for writing catchy hooks. When I Think Of You In A Castle is gallant and staunch, landing the band’s sound somewhere in the middle of Ty Segall’s garage rock excursions and Tame Impala’s reverb-soaked psych rock. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is an obvious benchmark for any band with an inkling towards psychedelia. They spent last year hunkered down in the studio—dabbling in any and everything rock-adjacent, spanning across a whopping total of five LP’s, making absolutely sure that no stone was left un-turned. Post Animal accomplish that very same feat in 44 minutes flat, a near photo finish that makes for one hell of a trip.
“Gelatin Mode” sets the stage, immediately bursting out of the gates with a galloping kick drum, dual guitar leads, and a consciously ambiguous chorus that’s as peculiar as it is sedative (“Below, travelin' slow out on your own/Your mind, gelatin mode, time to explode”). When I Think Of You In A Castle is the perfect title for an album whose lyrics are more often than not imprecise or obscured—an album where feelings are conveyed with textures and sounds rather than words. Much like how castles were built with defense in mind, Post Animal rarely lets their guard down. On “One Thing”, Dalton Allison cuts through the de facto guise of the record, briefly revealing a vulnerability (“I close my eyes and try to make it go away/You’re still the one thing on my mind”) and his falsetto is endearing enough to allow those words to cut to your core. Similarly, slow burner “Castle” sounds like the universe finally revealing its true colors to you, acid washed in a kaleidoscopic swirl of synths the instrumental fades out just like the sunlight creeps into your bedroom window, steady and unwavering.
Rowdy choruses and lumbering riffs are Post Animal’s true bread and butter, their sound is more akin to a case of Old Milwaukee than stale bong water, and the albums best moments happen when they let loose and have a little fun. “Tire Eyes” and “Heart Made of Metal” are overflowing with southern swagger, à la “Gimme Three Steps”, briefly swapping out psychedelia for something a little rougher around the edges. Lead single and album highlight “Ralphie” is a gently polished earworm, finding Allison and Joe Keery trading off vocal duties and doing their best Lennon-McCartney impression. The track’s carefree energy is irresistible—it’s also necessary to understanding their ethos, specifically the summer they spent at a friend’s lake house in Michigan recording the album. When I Think Of You In A Castle accomplishes a nearly impossible feat; it stuffs all the boisterous energy and unabashed fun of being in a room with six friends making the record they always wanted to make.