A single piano key stoically collides with a mild drumbeat to form the backdrop of “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” one of the longer jams featured on Mike Dekleva’s 2018 EP Psychedelia, but as the track begins to unfold, it becomes clear that its true purpose is as a demonstration of string supremacy on the part of Dekleva, whose play in this record stands out as some of the best fretwork I’ve listened to in a while. When you’ve got riffs as cerebral as those found throughout Psychedelia, you don’t need lyrical substance to tell your story, and here, I think additional, non-sonic poeticisms would have just got in this artist’s way.
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Every great guitar song needs a solid bassline to back up the melodic carnage, and in “Miguel’s Last Stand” and Psychedelia’s title track, we find what amounts to the perfect set of low-end tonalities to accompany Dekleva’s every note. There’s a great definition to the strut of the bass in “Miguel’s Last Stand” that enormously feeds into the midway fever pitch in the song, and had it not been given as much of a boost by the EQ as it was ultimately afforded in this instance, I’m not sure the track would be quite as potent a number as it is here.
Psychedelia definitely enjoys one of the sleeker production qualities an indie offering can possess, but it’s worth pointing out that none of the organic frills in the actual content of the music here has been compressed by the meticulously tight master mix. We get as much of an eruptive tone out of the fretting in “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” as we do the crisp interplay between the synthetic harmony and Dekleva’s plodding grooves in “Love Finds a Way,” which is no easy feat when taking into account how unique each of these songs were structured.
The virtuosity of the guitar parts in the title track and “Miguel’s Last Stand” are met with relative simplicity, at least from a compositional perspective, later on in “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” and “Love Finds a Way,” but personally, I think that the implied (and direct) aesthetical contrasts we discover within the four tracks on Psychedelia are pivotal to our appreciate the dexterous skillset Mike Dekleva is working with as a guitarist. Conflicting sonic elements can yield just as much grandeur as they can discordance, and on this occasion, Dekleva is utilizing a bit of both in his quest to strike a hot chord with rock fans this season.
If you love psychedelic rock in its most guitar-focused forms, Mike Dekleva’s Psychedelia should be regarded as a fantastic acquisition this year, and despite the fact that it technically debuted back in 2018, its stylish demeanor and full-color depth definitely make it just as fine a listen now as it was then. You don’t have to be a six-string nerd to love this EP, but for those of us who proudly wear the title, it doesn’t get much better than this.