If you’re looking for a slightly psychedelic soundtrack for your summer road trip, download Guillaume Marietta’s new album of pop tunes. Basement Dreams Are the Bedroom Cream is both a mystical cloud of effervescent acoustic guitar jangle and a bright shaft of sunshine. You’ll want to detour to Woodstock and wander around with bare feet. But there’s a lurking darkness too, like that sinister rest stop you wisely drive by.
Basement Dreams is the first solo release by the Paris-based Marietta, who is also the lead singer and guitarist of psychedelic guitar band The Feeling of Love. It comes from Born Bad Records, which released many of his band’s previous albums.
Marietta’s music is full of smart references and weird, whimsical scraps sourced from who knows where. Most songs are based on acoustic chord progressions that jangle on through all of Marietta’s songs. He makes some nods to the classics, like the sludgy “I Am the Walrus” cellos on “Chewing Your Bones” and the ticking, rhythmic “Pinball Wizard” guitar patterns on “ The Falconer Girl.” Listening to the instrumentals you feel like you’re back in the 1960s, until an electronic accent pokes through the illusion. Technobongo noises start “He Never Smiles,” an assemblage of stuttering guitar riffs and nasal-sounding “woo-oo’s.” Sometimes these electronic embellishments seem unnecessary, as with the warbling effects on the vocals on “Father.” But it’s mostly an all-natural groove of spirited tambourines and melodious vocal harmonies.
Many of the songs are about women and are lovely—unless they’re really, really not. On “Ellie Jane” Marietta nostalgically recalls the girl with whom he could truly be himself: “Oh Ellie Jane I don’t need to hide/Oh Ellie Jane I am drifting by your side.” Sweet. “The Falconer Girl” is about an unattainable woman and is more elusive: “Cigarettes in her hands seem more graceful than in yours/The smoke before her eyes comes from a country of which you are banned.” Mysterious. But then there’s “Chewing Your Bones: “Slobbering in your ears/Licking your eyes/It’s gone away/Nibbling your toes/Slipping your spinal/Killing the hours.” Maybe that’s an example of a basement dream. Whatever it is, it’s gross.
Basement Dreams Are the Bedroom Cream is like the musical version of Terry Gilliam cartoon—an eclectic collage full of color and whimsy, but sometimes with a dark, nasty punch line. In “The NBA Conspiracy” Marietta promises, “I can make it more greasy, sticky and spongy.” I’m sure he can. Part of me hopes that next time he will.