"Surgery" is The Warlocks' line drawn in the sand.
On the other side are the 12-minute jams, sprawling acoustic psych freakouts ('House of Glass' from "Rise and Fall" as a prime example) and lo-fidelity sound quality that recalled both the sleazy English 80s (Spacemen 3 et al) and the late 60s Northwest garage rock scene.
On this side are shorter bursts of muscular and decisively riff-laden shards, and a noticeable improvement in sound quality.
Few bands could pull off such a staggering transformation, and Warlocks are one of them.
Where Warlocks sounded like true 60s revivalists on "Rise and Fall" and "Phoenix" they now sound like modern bands that cite the 60s as an influence but sound more like the 80s underground, i.e. Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dandy Warhols, BRMC.
The ultra-catchy 'Just Like Surgery' steals a page from the Jesus and Mary Chain's playbook but substitutes the howling feedback with mid-fretboard power chords and an infectious lead riff. This song alone is worth the price of admission.
Producer Tom Rothrock did some tinkering and brought lead 'Lock Bobby Hecksher's pop songwriting instincts to the fore, and to fairly astounding effect.
'Gypsy Nightmare' carries some atmospheric background guitar lines behind the din and 'Angels in Heaven...' is akin to a doo-wop send-up or prom night slow dance that lifts some notes from Modest Mouse's 'Sleepwalkin.'
'Thursday's Radiation' harkens back to the sprawling/shimmering dirges of previous albums and will satiate long-time fans while providing newbies a taste of what they've missed.
Unfortunately 'The Tangent' drops an anchor into the middle of the album (and I believe it's one of a few songs Hecksher wanted to leave off the album), but it's rescued by 'Evil Eyes Again' (JAMC-styled pop), 'Above Earth' (bottom of the well slowcore) and 'Bleed Without You Babe' (slow-paced two-note blues with guitar explosions), which are notable standouts. 'Suicide Note' closes the album with one of the Warlocks' patented expansive jam sessions, though it's cut in half and a slithering bonus track closes the last five minutes of the 12-minute running time.
A few misses here ('The Tangent' and 'We Need Starpower' seem tossed off rather than fleshed out), but there are enough bullseyes here to keep your attention and prod newcomers seek out the Warlocks' outstandig earlier efforts.