- SPIN Rating:8 of 10
Label: Drag City
With the aid of producer Ty Segall, White Fence's Tim Presley has delivered on the promise of his increasingly enthralling bedroom recordings with For The Recently Found Innocent. The studio release is the LA psych-rocker's sixth album under his White Fence moniker, which originated in 2010 amid the demise of his former band Darker My Love. In addition to enlisting Segall, smaller details, including the addition of touring member and Thee Oh Sees drummer Nick Murray, the album's striking cover, and its release on indie mainstay Drag City, all suggest a consciously bolder effort.
For The Recently Found Innocent is as much a lesson in self-awareness as it is a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Over the last four years, Presley has recorded at a relentless rate in his Echo Park home, releasing a handful of albums on homespun labels like Woodsist and Castle Face. His last full-length, Cyclops Reap, showed flashes of brilliance on songs like "Chairs In The Dark" and "Pink Gorilla," brash, staggering psych heavily indebted to The 13th Floor Elevators, Love and Syd Barrett.
But six months after its release, White Fence released a live album that turned out to be its best yet. Songs like "Pink Gorilla" burst from their cages with the help of a talented backing band, which included Murray on drums. In response, For The Recently Found Innocent is a deft attempt at recreating the live experience in album form. Following a collaboration that generated 2012's Hair, Segall brings Presley's layered guitar magic to the surface, capturing all the quirks and flourishes along the way. Even the cracks in Presley's falsetto on "Like That" serve to add a subtle sense of irony to the tongue-in-cheek ode to consumerism.
Although Segall and Murray's contributions can't be overstated, the inventive songwriting and concepts are all Presley's doing. Innocent's 14 tracks employ an array of vintage styles to evoke emotions of grief, guilt, paranoia and eventually acceptance. Intimate, dreamy tracks like "Fear," offering personal reflections ("I live in fear of wasting time"), are spliced between symbolic hallucinatory visions like the jaunty, post-apocalyptic "Sandra (When The Earth Dies)" and "Wolf Gets Red Faced," about, you guessed it, an alcoholic werewolf.
The latter, along with "Arrow Man," which abruptly cuts away to a dusty acoustic rhythm reminiscent of early Beck, show Presley fully giving in to his weird side. On "Wolf Gets Red Faced," Presley, speaking in third person, relents, "I don't care what my face looks like." After a few listens, the line becomes representative of a larger realization. In acknowledging certain personal and artistic shortcomings, Presley has uncovered a hidden well of confidence and skill that couldn't be contained in his home recordings.