“Uh, well, sir, it’s this rug I have. It really tied the room together,” explains a dressing-gowned The Dude in the office of bullish business magnate Mr Lebowski. In a case of mistaken identity, a pair of thugs paid a visit to The Dude’s abode and urinated on his prized rug. “Every time a rug is micturated upon in this fair city, I have to compensate the person?” retorts the businessman; a far from desired response. So, the protagonist of the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski decides to assert himself: “I am not Mr Lebowski, you’re Mr Lebowski. I’m The Dude, so that’s what you call me. That... or His Dudeness.”
Bed Rugs, four Antwerpians playing lo-fi psychedelia fuzz, share more similarities with The Dude than just their homage of a band name. Just as The Dude fails to achieve deserved success in life, Bed Rugs have found themselves releasing their debut album for a second time, sandwiching last year’s highly praised mini-LP Rapids. With new label Ample Play Records, they have hopes of greater recognition.
The decision is vindicated, because 8th Cloud is a relaxed, charming record that is punctuated with alluring hooks and satisfying bites of distortion. The opener ‘Purple Pill’ is replete with references to the Sixties culture that the band evidently cherish; mind-altering drugs, warm guns, and road journeys. Warped licks, ambling basslines, and guitar buzzes are arranged like a perfect Californian afternoon in August. ‘Modern Freaks’ is a track full of incisive poise, up until its let-loose solo, which evokes Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker. ‘What Does it Mean’ sees Arne Omloop’s excellent bass play become more prominent, while Yannick Aerts’s vocals are reminiscent of Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.
From here, 8th Cloud slows its pace. ‘Mark’s Ghost (Almost)’ begins pleasingly plodding, but its heels eventually drag, while ‘Evening Crusade’ is a bit of strange country-inflected interlude. Fortunately, it is followed by one of the album’s standout songs. ‘Dream On’ crackles sumptuously, as the chiming guitars ring out to infinity, and the influence of Tame Impala merges with Air’s Moon Safari. The 65-second title track ‘8th Cloud’ is an intense instrumental, that leads into the album’s weakest point, the misfit pop-rock ‘Subtopia’. Nonetheless, the sonorous ‘Shoe’, recalling Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s quieter moments, carries us on a cloud to the end of the album.
Belgian magazine Les Zaza’s recently described Bed Rugs as 'the illegitimate children of McCartney and Cobain', and although this is obvious hyperbole, it does convey how this album has combined sweetness and grit, classic songwriting and hedonistic innovation. So although like The Dude, they have made somewhat dubious decisions in their past (the band were previously called The Porn Bloopers), 8th Cloud will surely garner praise beyond their local European benelux axis, riding the crest of feel-good summer love. With the band set to record a new album this summer, Bed Rugs may even reach cloud nine.
7Peter Yeung's Score