The present indie epoch is awash with prolific artists. Perhaps as a reaction to hip-hop and blogging culture (the former proffering an endless current of Internet mixtapes and cameo-permeated singles, the latter allowing artists the unprecedented freedom to release new material as soon as it’s recorded), some of today’s most influential musicians are avoiding the stoic stance of ‘90s cult icons like My Bloody Valentine and Neutral Milk Hotel in favor of a more candidly productive approach. Instead of years long gaps between records, bands like Animal Collective and Deerhunter are making music more rapidly while individual members are often stepping away for solo records and collaborations. This creative potency often rewards fans: Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox has seemingly posted a career’s worth of demos on his blog for free. It has also, however, caused numerous critics (especially in Cox’s case) to suggest that with such generosity comes the risk of oversaturation.
L.A.’s Tim Presley could be considered a proponent of the more-is-more zeitgeist: In under a year, he contributed vocals, guitar and visual artwork to Darker My Love; became a full-fledged member of Texas garage rockers the Strange Boys; and, with …Is Growing Faith, released his second solo album under the moniker White Fence. However, the often-mesmerizing psych-pop of the sprawling …Is Growing Faith suggests that, in Presley’s case, the “more” in question isn’t just for the sake of more. Instead, Presley’s latest album as White Fence comes off as the product of a restlessly creative imagination. At once minimal and bristling with bizarre detail, …Is Growing Faith is by nature scattershot. Sometimes the record wanders into pure psychedelic indulgence and songs tend to take seemingly random turns. However, it’s this experimentation curiosity that helps…Is Growing Faith succeed in a near stream-of-consciousness manner.
Although …Is Growing Faith chaotically jumps from idea to idea (sometimes in the course of one song), it’s unified by the hazy, ‘60s-inspired production and darkly surreal humor. Recalling the stoned lo-fi experiments of the Tall Dwarfs, “The Mexican Twins/Life is…Too $hort” begins with off-the-cuff absurdities delivered by what sounds like an acid-fried midget before settling down into a mid-tempo strummer. This segues into “Art Investor Collector,” which features some of the record’s most memorable, fatalistic lyrics (“It’s the wrong race/ But you can still run.”) Elsewhere, “Your Last Friend Alive” weds shimmering, playful percussion to ominous guitar scribbles while the insistent riff of “Enthusiasm” suggests an early Kinks rocker lost in a sea of disembodied vocals. Centerpieces (and album highlights) “Tumble, Lies & Honesty” and “Lillian (Won’t You Play Drums)” only reinforce the charming disparity of …Is Growing Faith. The yearning ramshackle folk of “Tumble,” recalls early solo Paul McCartney and stands as the album’s most straight-faced moment. “Lillian,” on the other hand, is a haunting, spiraling number with a fuzz-box aided climax.
Unlike other garage obsessives such as the Black Lips or Ty Segall, Presley doesn’t toughen his sound with a punk edge. Instead, …Is Growing Faith feels more like an actual lost psychedelic-era gem than a revivalist record. In fact, other than the Johnny Thunder’s cover that closes the record, there is little to suggest that …Is Growing Faith came out any time after 1969. …Is Growing Faith is an introverted bedroom album at heart, taking the listener on a journey through the mind of a true period fetishist. It’s uneven, to say the least, but it pulses with the energy of someone who has too many ideas to confine himself to one direction.