The Universe Smiles Upon You
Echoes of the Southeast-Asian psych- and surf-rock scene of the 1960s-’70s reverberate through The Universe Smiles Upon You, the debut from Texas/Thai trio Khruangbin. Primarily an instrumental affair, bassist/vocalist Laura Lee anchors a potent low-end to complement trippy guitar runs reminiscent of the influential recordings of vintage Cambodian stars Pan Ron and Sinn Sisamouth. Combining the grooves of Western rock ’n’ roll with Southeast-Asian musicality, Khruangbin plays to both strengths on tracks like “Two Fish and an Elephant,” as relaxing a soundscape as you could ask for (and one ripe for sampling). On “Dern Kala,” the trio finds even funkier bridges between East and West, while “Little Joe & Mary” occupies some new territory where, perhaps, a spaghetti western plays in the din of a Chiang Mai beer bar. By the time Lee finally opens up and sings about a classy queen who wouldn’t keep quiet on “White Gloves,” you won’t be able to deny the uniqueness of this impressive new outfit.