Tim Kinsella and Jenny Pulse have spent years making thoughtful and unpredictable art, whether musically as Joan of Arc or Spa Moans, or under their given names as writers and visual artists. On Giddy Skelter, their debut album as the unadorned “Tim Kinsella & Jenny Pulse,” they once again take an unexpected turn, but aim for something more direct. They’ve crafted a swirling, past-future, future-past, sorta-rock, collage-rock, melange borne from the confined anxiety of the pandemic. It’s a full-length undeniably of its moment, rich with musical references while radiating a visionary path forward.
To assemble Giddy Skelter, Kinsella and Pulse aggressively culled their tracklist until they had a lean and impactful 11 songs, unlike anything either musician has released before. Opening track “Unblock Obstacles” chugs along on a three-chord riff and dubbed-out drums before venturing into a hypnotic, feedback-filled drone that channels pre-Loveless My Bloody Valentine. “Over and Over” imagines a world where Slowdive or Lush collaborated with Prefuse 73. On “Nena,” one minute features loops of classical piano, the next Spacemen 3-style psychedelic drone, and the next contemporary R&B. The majority of songs on Giddy Skelter foreground Pulse’s yearning, ethereal vocals, giving the music a distinctly feminine overtone.
The title Giddy Skelter alludes to both Gimme Shelter, the infamous documentary about the Rolling Stones’ disastrous Altamont free concert, and the Manson Family’s Helter Skelter scenario. But none of this is an homage to a bygone era. And there’s another dimension to the title: It can be interpreted alchemically, combining two of the most popular songs in rock history — “Gimme Shelter” and “Helter Skelter” — both of which have sinister associations that give them greater gravity. Sometimes the thing that makes great rock n’ roll is the ineffable and the intangible, something you can only describe as alchemy; other times it’s the rigors of process. On Kinsella and Pulse’s Giddy Skelter, it’s both — and it sounds unlike anything else you’ll hear this year.
""a lustrous mix of psychedelic drone, fuguelike piano, and sweet AOR soul."
- Chicago Reader
"On Giddy Skelter, the Chicago duo have crafted a swirling, past-future, future-past, sorta-rock, collage-rock, melange, rich with musical references while radiating a visionary path forward."
"...chilled-out dream pop..."
- Brooklyn Vegan