Under the name White Fence, Tim Presley released a lifetime's worth of woozy, wheezy bedroom psych-pop nuggets in just a few years, enough so that he needed to branch out and try different stuff before he got into a rut. Hence, his experimental electronics project w-x and the weird duo album made with fellow traveler Cate Le Bon under the name DRINKS. Working with Le Bon proved so easy and worthwhile that Presley chose to have her produce and arrange the first album he released under his own name, 2016's The WiNK. On it, Presley strays pretty far from his established warped garage sound, and instead sticks close to the off-kilter sound the pair conjured up on the DRINKS album, Hermits on Holiday. Or maybe closer to the point, like a Cate Le Bon album with Presley singing and both of them playing guitar. It has the same kind of strangled guitar lines that slash in and out of the mix, jumbled rhythms that drive the songs like they were missing a wheel, and the general feel that the music is being played by a band made up of members of Television and Fairport Convention at their respective peaks. Le Bon's production is sparse and unadorned by studio sheen, the drumming by Warpaint's Stella Mozgawa is strong and supportive, and Presley's songs are sneakily hooky, just like Le Bon's are. The song the two wrote together for the album, "The Wink," is the catchiest, sounding like something from her excellent 2013 album, Mug Museum, only with Tom Verlaine singing. The rest of the record is a little weirder and harder to digest, with more psychedelic wanderings and oddball song structures knocking the listener for a loop. It's never anything less that intriguing, though, and easy to get lost in as you try to wend your way through the maze of disjointed guitars and wobblingly jaunty vocals. The duo seem to have tapped into some kind of strange magic; their pairing has produced two fine albums that are both challenging and rewarding. The WiNK may be less readily accessible than the music Presley was making as White Fence, but it's definitely as good. ~ Tim Sendra
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