Departure is an album I like parts of, but don’t think many others will care about. My affinity for the Vermont duo’s debut comes solely from a handful of songs that remind me of Spacemen 3. Call me shallow (you wouldn’t be wrong), but I love Spacemen 3 enough that I can like an album based on nothing but that simple criteria. Departure never reaches the same level of Spacemen 3 sound-alike as pre-album single “High and Low”, but it hits a lot of the same notes as the Rugby psych-rock legends. The throbbing garage-rock of Spacemen 3’s debut album is represented on album -pener “Mad Mary Jones”, and the luminous psychedelia of the final Spacemen 3 album (Recurring) weighs heavy over “Paint This City” – Departure’s best song. Not enough of a Spacemen 3 connection for ya? Well, the band’s logo is a modified version of the hypno-spirals from the cover of The Perfect Prescription, and the album was mixed and mastered by Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember.
All those Spacemen 3 connections make for some good moments, but The Vacant Lots don’t have any appeal of their own. Most of their music based on paper thin song-writing premises which they drive into the ground with mind-numbing repetition. Their playing is amateurish, and they often sidestep anything challenging, like tempo shifts or melodic exposition. The album is poorly produced, the singing is weak, and the less said about the frequent forays into spoken word pretension, the better – especially “Make The Connection” which aimlessly drones on for ten chord-changeless minutes.