by Andrew Hertzberg (@and_hertz)
When I think of The Gold Web, I think about the random loft party I first saw them at with costume changes, confetti, balloons, props, theatrics, peace and love and understanding and some far-out bizarre psych-pop. I don’t think about politics. That’s for damned sure. So here I am, with my first listen of the new album Acidchrist Superspice & The Candyboys (released through the band’s Dream Come True label), again politics being the furthest thing on my mind, when “The Emperor” greets me with the lines: “Emperor we’ll never follow you / We have seen the things you’ve only dreamed of / Emperor we’ll never follow you / Or anything you do / The people are the power.” Oh, hello.
The album was produced by Gold Web frontbeing Max Perenchio in a “haunted basement studio in Chicago.” The songs are draped in syrupy sweet melodies and party-ready beats, melodic guitar solos and filtered percussion, and a healthy dose of sha-la-las and cha-chas to camouflage the album’s derision for the current administration. On “Hello Bug Lord,” Max calls out the titular beast for turning its “power into an infestation” and for having a “teenage ego.” “We resist you now it’s time to step on the bug,” becomes the song’s rallying cry. As Perenchio put it in an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, "What else could anyone be protesting now? I can't imagine any creative person, any empathetic person not protesting with their art right now."
While it’s tempting to label a pop or psychedelic album that’s so focused on the glammed up portions of the live show, it’s more of a celebration of the personal, which is inevitably political. Oh yeah, and drugs. The T.Rex-like “Candy Candy” is less subtle in its metaphor, “Falling Over Diamond Skies” gives a nod to some well-known song that I can’t quite think of the title of but for sure was only about drugs, and then there’s the more candid “Cocaine Friends.” But just like how the fun and celebratory sounds mask the deeper political content, the various drug references better symbolize one of the more popular slogans at protests and rallies around the country: Love Trumps Hate.
“Stargirl,” of which the title seems like should be a nod to Bowie, reminded me more of Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and A Wizard, a True Star-era Rundgren, although with a slightly higher attention span. Whether it’s Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, or Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Perenchio has done his homework. Like many of the aforementioned albums, Acidchrist Superspice & The Candyboys is certainly a concept album; the tracks all bleed into one another, including the ultimate track back into the first. While dripping in plenty of glam- and psych- heyday RIYLs, it is instantly catchy. By the second listen, I already felt like I’d been listening to the record for years. Despite the upbeat tracks throughout, the momentary drug-like high of being able to party and dance and scream and just feel good for even half an hour, we’re still stuck with this current political shitstorm until we ain’t. But on the last track, there is hope, as Perenchio sings “I will burn the secret lamp for you.” So what’s the secret, Max? Burn the lamp and show us the way.