- A Sense of We
Former New Groove of the Month Quactus returns with their second album, and it is a dense yet fluid mixture of what made the band stand out in their live shows. Whether or not it is a long jam, a short melodic run through of a memorable hook, or a rampage through an outlandish groove that won’t quit—equal parts Phish and a soaring momentum all their own—the quartet plays with a focused abandon that is quite enchanting. It helps that the band can lay down some of that energy in the studio, as well.
From the opening track (“At Ease”) with its roll out of a patient jam in the interlude, to a reggae-soaked rumination (“Fearless”), to an ambient adventure featuring Steve Molitz on keyboards (“Wine”; other guests on A Sense of We: Mike Mangan is also featured on Hammond organ on “Superflitious,” and Rebecca Freund on violins and vocals on the Celtic-like romp “Drinko (A Quactus Toast)), to the clever bookend (“Van Winkle’s Nightmare”) to the spectacular instrumental from their debut album (“Van Winkle’s Dream”), to a clever homage to inspirations which rocks with a pulse (“Roger Waters”), to an impressive closing trio of tunes with a variety of mature conceptual ideas, Quactus is beguiling in their clever simplicity, never sacrificing mood for self-indulgent moments.
Indeed, that climatic trio—“Better Days” features a gorgeous acoustic opening en route to its sonic journey, while also including Michael Russeck on piano, “The Offer” well…offers an upbeat riff and jam, and “Hot Whopper” closes with ample confidence on this inspired and determined second platter from a band that is not only able to jam with a clear purpose, but has the taut songs to match the flexible explorations. Add to that Quactus’s innate ability to have fun and one is left with a sense that the band gets it: freely experiment while having chops, tunes, and a warm positive attitude covering the collective catalogue, and the possibilities yet to come may be endless.