Reviewed by Jeremy Steinberger, Fri., March 22, 2019
Mamahawk sets aim for cosmic pop with hints of Tame Impala or Unknown Mortal Orchestra's future soul on Brain Invaderz. The six-track sophomore release rises from the earth-tone folk of the Austinites' self-titled debut, but only hits its target in bursts. Nothing stands out more than the title track opener, where woozy synths aerate guitars and swinging drum slops. Sticky legato harmonies from James Reed and Adam Littman enhance the psychedelia. Elsewhere, though, untimely bridges and dry melodies convolute the free-wielding funk. "Headspinnin'" and "Lioness" offer irresistible grooves that fall apart when the trio tries to do too much. Vocals feel ho-hum unless they follow Impala's use of heavy delay and reverb, while lyrics wallow in hopeless romanticism. Without much flavor, everything quickly becomes bland. On "Moonride," Mamahawk hints they can seamlessly navigate between technical chops and neck-rolling jams, a skill that will set them apart once it can be harnessed to craft their own sound.