Wine Lips Are Pedal to the Metal on 'Super Mega Ultra'

BY Anthony BoirePublished Apr 3, 2024


Wine Lips' latest is a siren's call to air guitar and air drum enthusiasts the world over. On Super Mega Ultra, lead vocalist and guitarist Cam Hilborn, bassist Simon Larochette and heavy hitting Toronto drum legend Aurora Evans craft the wildest, most kaleidoscope-goggled and jet-fuelled rock album of the young year. After 2021's Mushroom Death Sex Bummer Party, the band has gone even further into the psycho-stratosphere for their follow-up; from the opening crunch of early single "Derailer," the vibes are firmly established — fast, unrelenting riffs and groovy, stomping beats held together by the hazy swagger of Hilborn's pipes.

Thriving in Toronto's mid-2010s psych rock scene, Wine Lips quickly established themselves as the tightest, most reliable garage-psych group with a penchant for the prolific. With 2019's Stressor, the band announced themselves; they'd officially grabbed the torch from predecessors like Thee Oh Sees and promptly doused it in gasoline. Like much of their past work, Super Mega Ultra trades in paranoid nights gone wrong, barbed self-takedowns and sometimes, self-prescribed moments of sober joy. "Hey, don't do your head in / You're so delighted when you get serotonin / You need to get excited excited excited excited" Hilborn sings on "Serotonin," a winking indictment of the tired rock 'n' roll lifestyle — moments later, he repeats that he needs to "stay hydrated," though he doesn't detail what liquids he's imbibing.

Despite the familiar topics, Wine Lips aren't afraid to explore other reaches of the psychedelic landscape. The first four tracks are the band's finely toasted bread and butter, keeping the tempos fast and the riffs decidedly beer-soaked. It's on "New Jazz" that they start experimenting with some stranger vibes. Between the knotted bass and guitar interplay and Evans's slinky ride cymbal, it's almost a revival of Booker T's classic Green Onions. That is, before it launches into a face melting wah-wah solo with drums crashing down around it. The late night highway rave-up "Burn the Witch" takes its time to build, replicating the rev up of the engines rumbling beneath. Evans's punishing snare crushes everything in the faster sections, before she lays into a smooth tom beat that complements the push-pull in this second half highlight.

Super Mega Ultra is somehow Wine Lips' most intense and most varied offering yet, the finest possible soundtrack to a night gone off the rails. Even when Wine Lips are at their chillest, they're grooving at most other bands' maximum intensity. Now that they've put out their definitive 100mph acid trip LP, it'll be curious to see how far they venture off the asphalt on future offerings. Fans of fast, crunchy psychedelia can raise their pints high and dust off their air guitars; "I've got a six-pack / drinkin' with my best friend," shouts Evans on "Six Pack." Say no more.


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