The new self-titled Wellwater Conspiracy album, while occasionally having very nice moments, feels like one long late-60s, early-70s jam that probably sounds overindulgent to most listeners (unless they’re stoned, of course). A slight disappointment of a band, Wellwater Conspiracy consists of two very talented musicians, Matt Cameron and John McBain. Cameron, who sings lead vocals for WC, is better known as the drummer from Pearl Jam, and McBain is the guitarist for Monster Magnet.
The album does include a few exceptions to the overused retro theme. The first song, “Wimple Witch,” which has the bouncy and lighthearted style The Foo Fighters made common, stands out. The song, lyrically and musically, is the most concise and pop-oriented track on the album.
The rest of the songs show a strong influence from the more experimental side of ’60s pop. Evident on the track “Sea Miner,” a slow and hypnotic tune. While long and stretched out, the song still draws in the listener. “Sea Miner” employs sweeping guitar sounds and mellow, reedy organs to add a unique atmosphere to the album.
Elsewhere, however, WC’s tribute to music of the past sounds more like an imitation rather than something new.
“Galaxy 265” employs Sgt. Pepper-era harmony and instrumentation, the Pepperesque effects-laden vocals even sound slightly British as does the phrase “asked me if I’d care for a fancy.” However, WC are neither British nor are they the Beatles and the track doesn’t quite work out. It lacks the energy of the Beatles and falls short of replicating Sgt. Pepper’s bizarre production style.
“Night Sky” sounds less dated. Even though it incorporates a soulful guitar solo and again uses organs not heard in a pop record since the ’70s, it mixes the retro style with more modern sounding heavy guitars. Only in this track can some of the Pearl Jam influence be heard. Unfortunately, Matt Cameron’s vocals, which aren’t that strong to begin with, don’t compliment the song at all.
Then there are songs like the conspicuously titled “My Darker Bongo,” which drag on and would fool anyone as to what decade they were made in.
The worst offenses on this album are the two instrumental tracks. “Rebirth” incorporates electronic blips and beats that sound like background music to an ’80s videogame. The track is almost painful to hear, and, at four minutes, is way too long.
Wellwater Conspiracy has some nice moments and fans of the Beatles and other 60’s bands might appreciate the homage — although they could just listen to the Beatles. This album isn’t all bad; it just needs to be reigned in. Its constant replicating of previous styles of music without adding any new creative elements becomes monotonous.