Not to be confused with The O.C.

Technically, Help is Thee Oh Sees second album, the follow-up to last year’s The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In. But this is no ordinary sophomore album, since Thee Oh Sees are actually a re-christened version of OCS (and were also briefly known as the Ohsees). Whatever name they happen to be going by, Thee Oh Sees are fronted by former Coachwhips frontman John Dwyer; once an experimental solo recording project, Thee Oh Sees are now a noisy garage rock four-piece.

Help is pure retro rock ‘n’ roll, its rowdy lo-fi sensibilities harking back to ’60s garage rock pioneers such as the Sonics and 13th Floor Elevators. The vocals are typically buried low in the mix and often soaked in reverb and echo; this means that the album doesn’t offer much in the way of pop hooks, favouring raucous grooves over sing-alongs. Only “Ruby Go Home” contains a memorable chorus, and that’s more to do with repetition than melody—Dwyer spends much of the song’s four-minute runtime repeating the titular phrase.

Despite lacking the radio-ready hooks of retro rock contemporaries such as the Strokes or Arctic Monkeys, Thee Oh Sees have plenty of thrilling ideas that begin to take hold with repeated listens. Opener “Enemy Destruct” is mostly made up of a single chord being pounded over and over, broken up only by brief breaks of herky-jerky riffing. The choppy power chords of “Meat Step Lively” give way to a jaunty groove and arguably the greatest flute solo in rock ‘n’ roll history (sorry, Jethro Tull). “Can You See?” and “Peanut Butter Oven” scale back the noise rock mayhem in favour of haunting falsetto vocals and (comparatively) mellow arrangements.

Help has more than enough musical ideas to merit a listen, but it’s also worth noting that the LP comes in one of the year’s best-looking packages. As well as having a badass purple-bat-and-rainbow cover, the album comes on pink vinyl with an illustrated sleeve with lyrics and bizarre doodles.

Help is out now via In the Red.
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