"Missing the boat" is most often the result of tardiness, but in The Psychonauts' case it was more like they turned up far too early, thought no-one else was coming and then found out they'd all buggered off without them a few years later. Upon Songs for Creatures' original release in 2003, it did seem as if Pablo Clements and Paul Mogg were out on their own; the eclectic collage of psychedelic rock, new-wave, dub disco and even folk songs the duo created on their debut—and to date only—album was as distant from the instrumental trip-hop of the Mo' Wax school from which they'd graduated or the electroclash and techno of International DJ Gigolos as their Somerset base in Yeovil was from London or Munich.
But while Mo' Wax subsequently faded away and much of Gigolos' other early '00s output deserved to be buried at the start of that decade, now the same sounds The Psychonauts experimented with can be heard in everything from The Oscillation's angular electronics through to Lindstrøm's epic disco and even Delphic's current dance and rock permutations; a rising wave of influence few would have guessed at given the mere ripples Songs for Creatures caused on first release.
Which is why it makes sense to view this remastered reissue less as an album that captured its time—as more accepted "classic" albums like Primal Scream's Screamadelica did—but more as a reappraisal after DJ Hell turned the boat back to pick up two people who'd plotted its course in the first place. Not that The Psychonauts have been entirely forgotten in the intervening seven years, with Hell talking up Songs for Creatures as a reference point for last year's Teufelswerk, and James Murphy namechecking it as an influence on The Rapture and DFA. The latter is something that's most obvious in "Magnetic," with its choppy guitar and vocal an early blueprint for The Rapture's The-Cure-go-acid-house update, or the motorik disco of "Empty Love," which certainly wouldn't sound out of place on an LCD Soundsystem LP.
However, while The Psychonauts might appear more contemporary now than they did back in 2003, Songs for Creatures is actually pretty retro and prog rock in its roots; with spaced-out guitars all over "Dream Chaser" and even a Jethro Tull-style flute solo in "Take Control." The acoustic folk song "Hips for Scotland" featuring James Yorkston could almost be '70s British folk-rocker John Martyn. But although its curious genealogy of inspirations now makes more sense today, Songs for Creatures would always feel unique and "out of time" no matter when it was released: Albums of this calibre rarely come along in any era.
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Tracklist: The Psychonauts - Songs for Creatures 01. Circles
02. Life's Swift Charger feat. Chancer
03. Empty Love
04. Hips For Scotland feat. James Yorkston
05. Hot Blood
06. Fear Is Real feat. Sibohan Fahey
07. Magnetic feat. Ghost
08. Distance Between Dreams
09. Dream Chaser
10. World Keeps Turning feat. Jason Rowe
11. Take Control feat. Sam Lynham