Tim Presley is a member of the bands Darker My Love and the Strange Boys, which do variations of dirtied- up psychedelic pop. White Fence is his third band and much more idiosyncratic. It’s just Mr. Presley making songs as complicated as he wants, with his multitracked asthmatic voice and his gift for weird, wayward song hooks. On White Fence, just released on CD by Woodsist, drum rhythms stumble and recohere; chord changes are half-forgotten or blown altogether. Audio quality changes from track to track or even in the middle of a song, and so does the music’s speed. The album sounds as if it were mastered on a cassette machine with failing batteries. This whole enterprise is way, way moth eaten: the Syd Barrett/1960s Los Angeles garage-punk influences, the dirty-on-purpose sound quality, the overmodulated guitar leads.
By a certain logic it should be a stone loser. But so much in music comes down to conviction. There’s something ritual about these songs, as if Mr. Presley had been carrying them in his head, with all their details, for a long time. Listen even once, and they’re hard to shake. All of Mr. Presley’s strange touches start to seem significant and obsessively desired: a short background sigh, a few seconds of harmonica or xylophone, a new strain plopped into the middle of a song that leads nowhere, a guitar solo that’s longer than it needs to be. It’s mannered and indirect music, but he’s a poet of that.