Athens, Georgia-based lo-fi psychedelic duo Instant Smile recently dropped their EP, 4 x 2, which blends ’60s and ’70s surf-rock flavors with classic rock, psych, and prog-rock elements into a distinctive sound perhaps best described as grungy surf-rock.
Formed in 2013, Instant Smile consists of Greg Phoenix (guitar) and Erin Berry (drums). For 4 x 2, each wrote an original song and selected a song to cover. Phoenix wrote “Thorazine Bender” and chose “Time And A Word,” the title track of Yes’s 1970 album, as his cover song. While Berry wrote “Crazy” and opted to cover Deep Purple’s “No No No.”
“Thorazine Bender” reveals the stripped-down rawness of dirty guitars riding atop mangled, roiling percussion, giving the tune a dark, uneasy feel. The lyrics reflect an anesthetic quality akin to being trapped in a surreal, artificial reality.
The surf-rock-laced drums of “Crazy,” followed by thrumming, murky guitars, forge a visceral tune reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane. Berry’s voice shifts from sing-song phrasing to a lysergic flow, imbuing the song with psychedelic gospel surfaces.
For some reason, “No No No” comes across as an amalgamation of surf-rock, bluesy country, pop-punk and rockabilly. Arguably the best track on the EP because of Berry’s distinctive vocals, there’s a tight, choppy sensation to the harmonic motion.
At once minimalist and dunked in uncooked retro tangs, with 4 x 2, Instant Smile establishes a creative path around dirty surf-rock textures.
4 x 2 [EP] Track Listing:
1. Thorazine Bender
2. Time And A Word
4. No No No
Run Time: 12:52
Release Date: October 4, 2023
Record Label: Independent