Bryan Scary | Daffy’s Elixir (Paper Garden)

cd bryan-scarySome tracks feel like they float out from behind a saloon’s swinging doors into the dusty night.

 

 

Ever since I discovered his first standout track “The Ceiling On the Wall,” I’ve described Bryan Scary’s overall sound as a sort of cross between Queen, the Beach Boys’ experimental era, and some kid from the 1950s who grew up listening to too many cheesy mad scientist radio serials. Here with Daffy’s Elixir, the indie pop-rocker’s first outing in three years, Scary changes up the formula and swaps out the sci-fi buff for someone more into Westerns.

Daffy’s Elixir is a concept album, telling a loosely woven, dusty tale of “bandits, con men, hucksters, phonies, and all-around bad fellas,” as he wrote on his kickstarter page he used to finance the project. This inspirational backing leads to 15 tracks of Scary’s refreshingly vintage sound interwoven with a Spaghetti Western vibe invoked by twangy guitars, honky-tonk pianos, and horns courtesy of new guest performer Giulio Carmassi.

Some tracks, such as the album’s intro “The Wicked Frontier” and “The Tale of Opal Dawn,” feel like they float out from behind a saloon’s swinging doors into the dusty night, but as the album goes on, later cuts “Day-Glo Waterfalls” or “Data Mountain” retain the more-established Scary style with driving, catchy choruses, synth and glam-rock guitar riffs, and lyrics about robotic outlaws and computers.

Regardless of how deep into the album you are, however, Daffy’s Elixir delivers the rich, satisfying, semi-psychedelic retro-but-not-quite sound that we’ve come to expect from Bryan Scary. It’s not flawless, but Scary’s latest outing strikes the balance artists struggle to maintain, exploring new territory without giving up old ground. A- | Dean Asher

RIYL: The Beach Boys, The Posies, Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, old cowboy movies

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