Grass Widow, Past Time
26 and a half minutes that feel like a full night's fever dream
San Francisco psych-rock trio Grass Widow's second full-length album clocks in at only 26.5 minutes, but its 10 tracks are so densely packed with darting guitar lines, furious drumming and haunting melodies, it feels like a full night's fever dream. Bassist Hannah Lew, guitarist Raven Mahon and drummer Lillian Maring share songwriting and singing responsibilities equally, but the LP's best moments come when their contributions are at odds — their triple vocal lines move in and out of harmony as Lew's thunking bass lines and Mahon's riffs tear past each other like commuters in a busy train station.
The album opens with the vaguely Eastern melody of "Uncertain Memory," which starts spare but quickly bursts into a crisply orchestrated jam as the trio sing one of their trademark opaque lyrics: "Things are happening now." "Strangers Come" bubbles with punk energy, and strings bring an unexpected serenity to the urgent "Give Me Shapes." The album was written in the wake of tragedies, and while the obscure lyrics don't betray the bandmembers' personal struggles, there's a prickliness to Past Times' driving intensity that conjures the dark side of the Sixties' acid scene. "Wake me if you can," Grass Widow sing on "Fried Egg," like they're almost ready to be rescued from the bad trip.