Woods: With Light and with Love
Some hippies clean up real nice. Woods—an often slightly shambolic and shaggy psych-pop outfit—have applied a degree of polish and sheen to their dreamy, lilting, strummy, trippy jams on their latest. There’s a new level of control here, or maybe restraint or confidence or mastery. “Shepherd,” the opening track, hints at the pristine and yearning country-tinged sound of classic Mazzy Star, with a mix of acoustic guitars, pristine pedal steel and piano. Elsewhere, the shiny jangle of The Byrds and the sad searching of George Harrison come to mind. There’s heartache and wide-eyed wonder in these tunes, all with the distinctive Woods sound—a mix of brittle and spectral. Beneath that, the theme of being haunted by the past slips into more than one song. But the band hasn’t lost its taste for weirdness, as with the snippets of reverse tape on “New Light,” the flourishes of the signature Garcia-esque envelope-filter effect on “Moving to the Left,” or the churning tribal kraut-rock jam of the title track. This may be the band’s most satisfying, mature and durable record to date.