Douglas Martin is back from the dead like Tobey Maguire from Brothers.

People who don’t listen to lo-fi music frequently talk about how the genre is merely an aesthetic crutch, how using slender means to record your music (as well as the tape hiss and distortion that often comes with it) is a way to cover deficiencies in your songwriting. In some cases this idea might be the stark and disappointing truth (sorry, Wavves). But for one Kyle Thomas, lo-fi garage was just a means to an end. Was Dead wasn’t one of those records coasting on the name of an in-vogue genre to make it sound more “authentic” or whatever; it would have been just as enjoyable if it were recorded in Electric Ladyland, which is a testament to Thomas’ force of personality as well as his ability to write fun tunes. This point was made crystal clear when King Tuff’s breakout self-titled record was released.

Essentially, King Tuff helped solidify a truth about rock music abandoned in the pursuit of repeated efforts to project the whole of the genre as quote-unquote “high art.” Courtesy of his signature brand of arena rock reconfigured for dive bars, Thomas delivered a collection of songs not meant to reinvent the same wheel that’s been reinvented countless times by now, but meant to tap into a sometimes fun-loving, sometimes emotional core meant to tickle the senses of anyone who has ever played air guitar at a stoplight. King Tuff seemed to scoff at your highfalutin tendencies and obscure references.

The band at its core — and, by immediate proxy, Thomas’ charisma and songwriting personality — emphasized the feeling that there’s nothing wrong with the kind of rock music the kids picked on you in school played on the radio. 25 years ago, this very good record would have been released on a mega-bucks major label (no Ted DiBiase) and the people going nuts for it now would have probably dismissed it as “cock rock.”

Which brings us to the question of the hour, is Black Moon Spell the record where Thomas shows us some new magic tricks? (I don’t mean to disrespect the world-renowned George Oscar Bluth; let’s call them illusions.) Does he go back to his roots in psychedelic folk and bring us some mind-bending trinkets from the world beyond? In short, the answer is no. But for all its lack of mysticism, Black Moon Spell is still very enchanting.

The real legwork of being a King Tuff listener is embracing the King Tuff persona, which is not very difficult because he is essentially a charming, romantic, wholly likable stoner who likes to eat pizza, drink beer, and hang out with his friends. Occasionally, he just wants a cute young lady to spend some time with him. Other times, it seems as though he’s just taken some acid and is trying to describe what he sees. He mythologizes himself and says he’s “batshit insane” on “Demon From Hell,” but tries to assuage your body dysmorphia issues on “I Love You Ugly”. He crushes on a horny lady werewolf (“Sick Mind”) and ruminates on the idea that forever isn’t as lengthy a period of time as you think (“Eddie’s Song”) Underneath the clouds of smoke and the denim vests, King Tuff is just a man who contains multitudes like the rest of us.

Thomas also is very well-versed in the craft of songwriting, plowing through shimmering ballads (“Staircase of Diamonds”) and riding-in-someone’s-convertible-on-the-freeway anthems (pretty much the rest of the album) alike. There are cleverly structured tunes and guitar hero solos. Of course, that all sounds exactly like his last album. And truth be told, if you’re looking for a wild divergence from the style that broke him from the dive bar indie pack, you’re expecting something different than what this band was meant to offer. If the self-titled record was the test to see what exactly King Tuff was capable of, Black Moon Spell is the streamlining of those results, adjusting them to achieve maximum impact. If you found the replay value of King Tuff to be pretty high, this one’s going to raise the bar. Sometimes you don’t need a band to do something different just to prove they can; sometimes doing what they do even more effectively than they did last time is good enough. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when you can get an unreal amount of mileage on the one you have.

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