It’s hard to predict the direction of each new album by White Fence, the psych-rock solo project of Cali’s Tim Presley. His latest LP, the Drag City-released For the Recently Found Innocent, retains the delicate touch that gave previous efforts such a richly textured sound, but dulls their experimental edge, with the result that this album has more emphasis on warm and gentle tones reminiscent of 60’s sunshine pop and psychedelia- right down to an affected English accent. While it’s sad to see some of the tried-and-true White Fence weirdness go away, it has the upshot of displaying Presley’s deftness at subtle guitar arrangements, a mixture of acoustic and electric, and ever-rising skill as a songwriter.
As mentioned before, White Fence’s compositions have always had a delicate sort-of quality, and For The Recently Found Innocent is no different, relying as it does on the emergent hazy vibe of various clean instrumental and vocal parts intertwining, rather than relying on heavy-hitting guitar fuzz or an abundance of studio effects (those things are here too, but in understated roles). The tracks here also employ a carefully balanced range of styles and motifs, containing nods to classic acts like The Kinks and late-era Beatles. White Fence’s track “Fear” is somewhat reminiscent of the George Harrison-composed “Blue Jay Way” from Magical Mystery Tour. Elsewhere, on tracks like “The Light” and album closer “Paranoid Bait,” Presley lets loose with some heavier, more punk rock guitar, but only in relatively brief spurts, and nowhere close to the volume or level of distortion found on, say, Twins, by frequent collaborator Ty Segall (who co-produced and provides drums on For The Recently Found Innocent). Other tracks have a tastefully executed country-rock twang, like on “Hard Water,” where Presley also plays slide guitar.
No doubt some listeners might feel exasperated at the plethora of retro sounding psych-rock coming out these days, but at the same time, White Fence’s songs have always had an intangible quality that goes beyond genre pigeon-holes or technical skill, a sort of indulgence in sheer aesthetic bliss. And in that respect, the mysterious murmurs of For The Recently Found Innocent are no less evocative than his other recordings.
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