Oh Sees – Face Stabber

The ever-metamorphosing Californian group release their 22nd LP, ramping up the prog-rock over a seriously ambitious runtime

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 14 Aug 2019
  • Oh Sees – Face Stabber
Album title: Face Stabber
Artist: Oh Sees
Label: Castle Face
Release date: 16 Aug

Another year, another album from John Dwyer's merry band of madmen. We're at 22 now, for those still counting, with Face Stabber which sees Dwyer and co in an ebullient mood with one of their longest, proggiest offerings yet. Clocking in at a mighty one-hour-and-20-minutes, Face Stabber is perhaps not for the more casual listener. If this is your first time exploring the twisted world of Oh Sees, perhaps a shorter album such as Mutilator Defeated At Last, at a svelt 33 minutes, is an easier gateway.

Then again, arguably there's no better way to get addicted to the psychedelic sounding mind of Dwyer than going head first, so here's as good a place to start as any. Face Stabber's length owes much to its two centre-piece tracks, which end each side of this double LP, Scutum & Scorpius (14:24) and Henchlock (21:02) which sees the band go in full-on long jam mode.

However, Dwyer counterbalances this with some of his shortest, sharpest, shocks, maintaining the balance between punk and prog rock that only he apparently can. Gholü, for instance, is a quick palette cleanser after the first of the album's two wig-outs. Elsewhere, tracks like Fu Xi and Poisoned Stones are classic Oh Sees at their best. So while it would be fun to get a more accessible record again, let's be honest, Dwyer is going to do whatever he feels like, and we'll continue to be here for it. 

Listen to: Gholü, Fu Xi, Poisoned Stones