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Le Corbeau (NO) – “Psycho at the Wheel”

Le Corbeau is nothing if not ambitious. Øystein Sandsdalen’s pet project—many might know him best for his years playing guitar in Norwegian shoegaze outfit Serena Maneesh—dropped three albums at once back in November, with little in the way of advance warning. The trilogy, titled IV V VI, comes with a whopping 27 songs; “Psycho at the Wheel,” a standout from VI – Sun Creeps Up the Wall, is the latest Nordic contribution to lined the storied halls of slow-burning, country-infused Gothic music.

On “Psycho,” Sandsdalen and his seven (!!) bandmates conjure dread and sensuality without ever leaving the midtempo range. Faint tremolo, strummed acoustic chords, bluesy, overdriven riffs, and dissonant, high-string screeching coalesce into a simultaneously seductive and creepy dirge ideal for soundtracking Lynchian neo-noir visuals. Creaking eighth-note pianos and layers of dusty, groaned vocal harmonies enter the fray to ensure “Psycho” never falters in its projection of the cowboy as a figure who wears a gigantic black trenchcoat and never makes eye contact.

And that’s precisely the thing: for all the swagger that Sandsdalen and his bandmates exude on “Psycho at the Wheel,” there’s an equal amount of anxiety, of horror, of knowing that something bad is right around the corner. Nowhere is the fear that Le Corbeau intends to convey with “Psycho” more apparent than in the song’s winkingly low-budget music video, which shuffles Sandsdalen and co. (and their instruments) around green-screened red, black, and white backdrops that don’t help them escape one noxious thing in particular: crows.

Those noxious, unsightly, pitch-black birds often associated with witchcraft and sorcery dominate the “Psycho” video, ensuring that the Maccauley Culkin-core outfits that Le Corbeau’s members wear throughout appear culty and chic, rather than outdated and cheesy. Sandsdalen and his musical cohorts appear as ambitious as their music—and release schedule—is.

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