Perhaps departing from the more deliberately static qualities of some of the songs on the previous Directions to See a Ghost (which I gave an “A” in these very pages two years ago), Phosphene Dream finds the Black Angels experimenting with more dynamics and harmony than before.

The whole album has a kind of upbeat gloom to it. Opener “Bad Vibrations” is a foreboding ringer, leaving the rest of album’s highs and lows as the proverbial icing on the cake. The band has emphasized subtle Beatles-ish harmonies under the layers of reverb and drone-twang in the chorus of “Bad Vibrations” and the crescendo of “Yellow Elevator #2.”

Alex Maas’ nasally Texas drawl nicely complements the English psych-pop sound of the band as a whole. This is especially evident on hard hitters like “Sunday Afternoon” and the Nico-like drone of “River of Blood,” an ominous and yet infectious number that, I think, includes the chilling line “You sit and die!” (It’s kind of fun to not have a lyrics sheet when listening to vocals laced with this much reverb.) Like Dead Meadow, the Black Angels have a loud and lazy sound, deceptively laid back but groovy, tuneful and abrasive when it needs to be.

Grade: A

Phosphene Dream is currently available.