It’s relentlessly clever and chipper, this saccharin psychedelic trip to the stars. It might be just what we need to bust out of our blues and in tune with our SpaceX success, but saccharin is oversweet anytime.
‘Ranger 1’ is an EP that is equal parts glam, 60s garage pop jangle, Beach Boys, Beatles and Gruff Rhys style whimsy. There’s enough cosmic glitter to convince Major Tom to break out his crash landing spandex, and more than enough sunshine buttery smoothness to ease out the bumps on the way. Each melody comes with a syrupy glow, every rough part is rounded and shining, but that shine don’t detract from the off-kilter jaunts into complex arrangements of sound.
The opening ‘Ranger 1’ could be sister or brother to any hi-camp Queen track from ‘A Night At The Opera’; the jerks into sections, the twist-twin guitars, the vaudeville piano that runs underneath. It’s this cheek that excuses the sweetness. ‘That 70’s Number’ takes a clean take on glam before breaking out briefly into the whitest of funk, it’s fantastically neat and audacious.
Throughout these tracks and all, there’s a wealth of well measured and finely tuned vocal harmonies that throwback to 60s pop cool. Every track is a shade off bombastic, the warm glow both a charm and distraction. All the references, movements, sound effects, sonic switches, they might lack their original roughness, but they’re there and they’re weaved in with such care and affection it’s hard not dig the pure wonder.
‘Turn It All Into Light’ turns a bright eyed Brian Wilson-esque over-sunned jangle into shapes forged by Sheer Mag, Beau Bowen and The Electric Mess, before gleefully stealing from ‘Eleanor Rigby’ then shifting to sugared Marc Bolan. If no part of that sounds like it should be possible, Butterfly make it sound easy.
While the tracks up to now have displayed their intentions in 10 foot high disco-lit letters, it’s ‘Koko’ that outshines the others. All the throwbacks and harks to the past are refined and the outcome is pristine glam pop. The lack of fuss makes it richer, it dials down the sweetness while keeping the playful and it works with its new rougher edges. It’s a condensed culmination of all parts so far and a strengthening end to EP. Hints of 60s lysergic with glam garage hooks all compressed in a slick mix of hard driven cheek? If this is the sound of refining their aim, we might join Major Tom in that spandex.