Photographers: Shirlaine Forrest; Ian Rook; Elspeth Moore; Desh Kapur.
Inspiral Carpets is that rarest of things: a reunion album that also represents the first-ever time an original lineup got an opportunity to make a record together. Vocalist Stephen Holt departed the Carpets in 1989, just a year before their debut, Life, and he stayed out of the picture until the band geared up to active duty in 2011, some 20 years after their first album and almost a decade after their initial reunion. It's a slightly convoluted history but never once do the Inspiral Carpets sound burdened by their past on this eponymous record. Instead, they act like no time has passed between their initial demos and this 2014 LP, diving right back into the organ-driven psychedelic swirl that is their signature. This isn't a desperate race toward the past so much as it is a reclamation of strengths, and that matter-of-fact attitude pairs well with the increased muscle the band's grown over the past 20 years. Inspiral Carpets are a heavier, thicker band than they were in the '90s and the lack of wide-eyed optimism gives this comeback gravity and attitude that suits men of a certain age, and while this shift alone would give this comeback distinction, the Carpets have also crafted a set of songs as strong as any of the records they released in the '90s, which means this is a surprisingly effective comeback. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine