You know that an album is working when every song brings an addictive hook and a unique, memorable melody, and that is exactly what happens on Megafaun’s self-titled album. A lot of bands can lay down a few killer tracks padded out with filler, but only the very talented can take a listener on an extended journey of psychedelic jams without boring them in the process. Rest assured that on Megafaun everything comes together into a wonderfully eclectic whole. There are parts that pay homage to the bands of old: Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, The Incredible String Band; and yet Megafaun also have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to keep things fresh and original whilst staying true to their creative vision. This is certainly an album that should be played as a whole rather than having individual tracks lifted in order to truly absorb their art.
As a result of the relatively commendable sequencing between songs, and the at times excessive length of the album in general, it is difficult to pinpoint songs that deserve recognition above others. There are plenty of shimmering guitars screeching into rhythmic grooves, and as the album unfolds it reveals more instruments in Megafaun’s arsenal. There are piano-led tracks, such as “Hope You Know,” which to this listener sounds a bit like Sigur Ros’ () with its sparse percussion and beautiful atmosphere, whilst the surprising “You Are the Light” comes across as a convincing slice of nostalgic alt-country. The unpredictable sense of pace throughout the album keeps things continuously interesting; “Isadora” is all over the place with its chaotic, Spanish-sounding horns, whilst “These Words” kicks off with an aquatic weirdness reminding one of Animal Collective’s “Water Curses.”
Whilst these more experimental aspects certainly succeed in piquing the curiosity of the listener, they don’t always sound as if they belong. This isn’t to say that they are are poorly executed, but disjointed albums can often suffer, especially when they are as long as the 14 tracks on display here. A listener will likely be more confused than appreciative when, amongst the quintessential folk music often attributed to Megafaun, they hear the reverb-saturated “Serene Returns,” which screams Panda Bear’s Tomboy. This isn’t a terrible thing, and had the band decided to release an entire album of this sort of sound it would have been another solid listen. As it stands, however, the track can’t help but come across as unashamedly random, especially when nestled between more traditionally acoustic songs.
But let’s be fair here: the benefits far outweigh the shortcomings. Megafaun’s biggest mistake is letting their indulgences push them too far at times, which weakens their chances of making an album that flows at a professional pace. This doesn’t change the fact that there is easily enough content here to suggest all sorts of musical directions for the band, and on a track-for-track basis this is without a doubt an impressive and worthwhile investment. Giving Megafaun a spin will open up more instruments than you can shake a stick at, and enough fresh ideas to cover an entire musical career. It requires an open mind to absorb so much in one single LP, but whether you’re looking for sing-along choruses, meandering instrumentals or just a damn-good listen, all three boxes will surely be inked by big fat ticks by the time the disc stops spinning.