Unlike the vintage '60s imagery that's dressed up the covers of the Gurus' previous albums, 2010's Closing Circles is adorned with a photo of a man falling from the sky to the ground -- while the back cover features a subtle but inescapable image of the same man after he's met the pavement. It's almost as if the Gurus are trying to tell us something is over and done, and though this group still clearly loves classic folk-rock and psychedelia, they're obviously less interested in replicating the sounds of the past, aiming for a more subdued feel and subtler textures on this set. By easing back on their shtick, the Gurus make a better case for their talents on Closing Circles; rather than suggesting they're trying to re-create some lost recording of another age, here they concentrate on writing good songs and bringing them to life in the studio, and they do it quite well. Psychedelic textures still play a significant role on this album, but the Gurus focus on atmosphere and mood rather than obvious trippiness, and the open, sun-dappled sound of "Strange Believer" and "Lunatic Lover" is all the more effective for avoiding the usual clichés. And there's no getting past the retro influences of "I Don't Care About It," "I Put a Spell on You" (an original, not the Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic), "The Trip," and "Necromonicon," but the Gurus have effectively blended them into their style rather than letting them rise to the top like an oil slick, and the confidence of Emilio Ramirez's guitar, Sergio Bartel's bass, and Josep Pons' drumming goes a long way toward making this music click. With Closing Circles, the Gurus have finally crossed the border from being a group of '60s revivalists to a contemporary band who use elements of '60s pop to make their music work, and that's opened them up to make one of the most satisfying albums of their career.AMG
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