Sacramento-based, modern-psychedelic practitioners Low Flying Owls titled their second full-length after the alchemist's elixir of life, that elusive missing element that obsessed scientists of old.
The listener is thrown into a concoction of elements that sound insoluble on paper. First, throw in some T-Rex big distorted guitar, add some Mercury Rev, and balance the equation with Brit-pop touches to make the dark mixture palatable.
The album pulsates through distorted backdrops full of lush, tasteful noise and well-placed hooks, repetitive enough to shake your butt or hypnotize with enough pop sense to sate your hard-pop needs. The players, fronted by the strong I'm-removed-but-still-snarling vocals of lyricist and principle songwriter Jared Southard, roll through many different styles while retaining their own sound. Opening with an up-tempo heavy guitar groove on "Glad to Be Alive," you think Southard and company might be a less Sabbath-drenched and more vocally present Dead Meadow, but the fourth song, "Strange Connection," takes the listener to a trippy early Pink Floyd space, an acoustic guitar leading a melted string arrangement with Southard sounding something like a less nasal Alan Vest from the Starlight Mints.
Vitae is a strong offering that successfully visits places others have journeyed to and failed, without sounding deliberate.