Review: Goat ‘Headsoup’

Somehow it feels like a different world back in 2012 when Goat’s debut World Music was released in all its syncretic technicolour glory. Tapping into some of the hokey semi-ironic occultism that seems to surface with each wave of retro-revivalism, they threw in a slightly provocative blend of exoticism, drawing on influences from other musical cultures. Whether they were prepared for this to also be a relatively big commercial success is something we’re unlikely to find out from the purposefully mysterious group, who maintain anonymity in an effort to preserve the mythos.

Goat ‘Headsoup’

Regardless of intent it wasn’t long before Goat were extremely high profile for what may have started as the side project of obscure Swedish psych-rock musicians. And with that has come some uneasy criticisms of what may be seen as cultural appropriation in their work. The band seem largely to have ridden this out however, and while I would like to hear more from them about their influences so that those with curious ears might dig deeper into the West African traditions, Ethio-jazz and afrobeat they tap into, I broadly feel that their intention is no more than making a good noise that pleases them.

What’s in a Headsoup then? To be prosaic about it: ‘singles, B-sides, digital edits’ and two new songs to close out the collection. I think I’d have been tempted to go with a Swedish title (‘Huvudsoppa’?) but that would be a break with their convention thus far, and while this release steps outside the focus on the album as a single piece they’ve talked about in interviews previously, it’s certainly not a departure from the Goat sound that will be familiar to anyone who has come across them before.

we’re treated immediately to that Goat energy, buzzing fuzzing guitars and grooves that got me on my feet…

The tracks certainly cover the span of their material but opening with The Sun And Moon we’re treated immediately to that Goat energy, buzzing fuzzing guitars and grooves that got me on my feet and reaching for the bass guitar. Winding melody lines matched up to those distinctive vocals prepare us for more lush grooving in Dig My Grave. To me this record starts to feel a bit aimless in its midsection, perhaps always the risk with a ‘bits and bobs’ release, as Goat demonstrate their less garage-y and more relaxed material, and wander further from their psych-rock template, however any doubts are soon put to rest by the closing duo of new recordings.

Fill My Mouth is just as sleazy as you may already suspect, I’m already uncertain whether I find it fantastically sexy or just a bit corny, but either way it fizzes with life and brings together classic flute power with a big fuzzy bassline and wah wah guitar to strut through a confident three minutes of fun. Queen Of The Underground I can see as a set-closer, for a while Goat have never been all about the distortion and heaviness, and to close out Headsoup they treat us to a laid-back heavy rocker with a scorching guitar solo that bodes well for future work that may be more my bag.

Whether this is a placeholder to bridge the wait for another album, or just a bringing-together of the short releases Goat have been putting out for a while is unclear, what is certain is that they continue to skirt that line between schtick and authenticity, criticism and praise, and cult credentials vs commercial success.

Label: Rocket Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp

Scribed by: Harry Holmes