When Buttercup plotted their three-EPs-in-a-year crusade to bring extreme productivity back to music, The Head Sits Upside Down on the Top of the Head was conceived as the weird finale. In much the same way that Rufus Wainwright shaved the inaccessible, anti-pop stuff off Want One and loaded it onto Want Two, The Cup surely figured that the maniacally disembodied vocals of “Blackwater” and Japanese newgrass creepiness of “Sleep With Me” might best be left off Captains of Industry.
As the self-consciously odd stepchild of the trio, The Head could have been an off-putting indulgence, but it’s the perfect punctuation mark on the band’s year of relentless work because it jumps out of the speakers with a no-rules sense of liberation, wedded to the band’s ever-escalating sense of confidence with the recording process.
For all of the times The Head turns Buttercup’s music on its head, there are many moments of pure-pop beauty: the luxurious block harmonies of “Sleep With Me”; the contrapuntal, three-not instrumental figure from ”For Dear Life,” which recalls Lindsey Buckingham’s guitars-sped-up-to-sound-like-harpsichords experiments on Tusk; and the pulsating, surf-beat groove of “Cure For the Cure.”
Inevitably, however, the band follows such moments with sonic jolts, such as Joe Reyes’s outrageously dirty guitar explosion immediately after the harmony bath on “Sleep With Me.”
It’s a testament to the strength of this nine-song disc that you don’t think of it as a mini-album or a truncated stop-gap. It’s a fully developed piece of work that deftly picks up where its EP predecessors left off, and also stands firmly on its own head.
— Gilbert Garcia
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