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The Pheromoans are tenants of an unruly domain. Over the last 18 years the group have evolved from garage rock primitivists to auteurs of their own curious sound; a frothy brew of loose electronics, refractory rock and humdrum musing. Their songs are mutable, capricious, unreliable narrations, often withholding as much as they reveal. Russell Walker’s understated vocal has always been the band’s unifying focus, it is wry, unsparing and wilfully honest. Walker’s lyrics are an observational tour de force, sometimes droll, yet often tipping over into unlikely pathos. With previous releases on Upset The Rhythm, Convulsive and Alter, 2024 will witness The Pheromoans return with lucky album number 13, entitled ‘Wyrd Psearch’ (out March 1st on Upset The Rhythm).

‘Wyrd Psearch’ was recorded in Lewes throughout 2023. This was undertaken by founding member James Tranmer, his keen instinct for how the band should sound shaping many of the creative decisions. Joined by new guitarist Henry Holmes, the five piece doubled down on a decidedly breezy, melodic approach. Scott Reeve’s drumming is ever brisk, whilst Daniel Bolger explores AOR peripheries on keyboard and bass. “Wyrd Psearch finds us on relatively zestful form” affirms Walker “whether it be merrily recalling the Jason Williamson / Tim Lovejoy Covid summit, or mentally bathing in the pleasures of lunch hours spent strapped to a listening post in Borders.” With The Pheromoans there is always a familiarity at play, only broken and reassembled, like a bygone sitcom gone rogue in your memory. This contributes to the group’s peculiarly British outsider perspective, one that shouts from the sidelines, but never goes unnoticed.

Subjects covered lyrically on ‘Wyrd Psearch’ include “mid-life crises, male pattern baldness, and thwarted artistic and personal ambitions” according to Walker himself. “Nothing is off limits for scrutiny, even rural arts communities” he concludes. Lead single ‘Downtown’ swings with chiming guitars and finds Walker mid-breakdown trying to persuade a loved one to accompany him into the town centre to collect controlled medication and wind back the clock to happier times. “I want to keep you in cotton wool until pay day” he confides. ‘Cropped to Death’ and ‘Father Austin’ are ruminative and more relaxed in nature, whilst ‘Twibbon Wife’ is a more energetic effort, all jabbed synth chords, circuitous basslines and rampant drum fills. ‘Faith in the Future’ similarly bounds along with reverie.

Walker claims that the album’s title is an expression of his frustration at the ubiquity of people claiming things are eerie or weird / wyrd in the present cultural milieu. The artwork for the record is designed as an actual word search too, a knowing nod to how we all grapple for meaning amongst the absurdity of each day. Leaning into ‘weird’ as a coping mechanism is a not on The Pheromoans’ agenda however. This album holds little sway with the supernatural, it’s not enough. The overriding impression given by ‘Wyrd Psearch’ is of a band renewed with ideas. There’s no trouble finding the right words, they’re hitting their mark, keeping up with the commentary. ‘Wyrd Psearch’ is a document of The Pheromoans mastering their unquiet moment.