It is a somewhat cruel turn of fate that the fourth record of the mysteriously decorated and anonymously manned Goat is released in the week in which the world unfortunately had to say goodbye to the permanently preppy and jazzy Mr Charlie Watts, most recently drummer The Rolling Stones. The title Headsoup is, after all, a clever little homage to the criminally underrated album of the early ’70s, which a large percentage of fans and critics have wrongly described as the beginning of Mick and Keef’s inevitable creative downturn. Fortunately, with another powerful collection of tunes, no one will be saying that about these mischievous Swedish psych rockers for a while.
From various single B-sides, radio edits and with two unreleased tracks on the back, the band’s musical cauldron seems to be seething with malevolent goodness. Much like Brian Jones traveling to Morocco in search of cheap heroin and the master musicians of Jajouka, Goat also find solace in the rhythms and practices of the North African landscape. The opener The Sun & Moon, which dates back from its first seven inches in 2012, carries elements of high life and Tuareg polyrhythms. If you look at this record with hindsight, the shell of which is adorned with images of satanic monsters, occult geometry, and tribesmen performing unknown rituals, it’s pretty obvious that the band has always had rather diabolical sympathies.
The creepy farm creatures for which they were named run, hop and bleat across the record, from the talismanic hullaboo of the early single Stonegoat to the louche lounge core clack that can be heard on the echoing goatfizz. Occasionally a touch of informed pastiche emanates from some of the more theatrical numbers. The Snake Of Addis Ababa, for example, sounds like something out of a Tiki library record from the mid-1960s about snake charmers and belly dancers and then the disharmonious flutes that are naively used on Union Of Mind & Soul are reminiscent of a junior school Band conducted by a particularly feverish Dennis Hopper in his easy rider phase.
Unlike, say, the work of the Arizona brothers Richard and Alan Bishop (who also hid their faces behind a hat that would be considered culturally appropriated today, and record after record of globally permeated psychedelic from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s with complete Seriousness) what sets Goat apart is that wicked streak of humor and pulsating pop accessibility, as seen on the goofy catchy single Queen Of The Underground. Call them the Sun City Girls Aloud if you have to, but don’t think about exiling these people just yet.