Nostalgia is here to stay, and in the year 2011 there are more choices than ever for a musical trip down memory lane. For Is Growing Faith, Tim Presleys second bedroom project album under the White Fence moniker, its not the sounds of the 80s or 90s that serve as pools of inspiration, but rather the British garage and psychedelic acts of the 60s. Retro is the norm for Presley; his two other projects Darker My Love and Strange Boys draw from the same time period.
And by Always opens Is Growing Faith with some bright guitar lines buried under a haze that one-ups the concepts of lo-fi and retro. Instead of distorted guitars or vocals, And by Always is itself slightly distorted to sound like a dying cassette tape two more plays away from snapping or spraying out of a cars stereo. The most apparent influence on Is Growing Faith is the Kinks, especially the garage rock production of their early work. Sometimes, however, the Kinksisms become distracting, such as on songs like Your Last Friend Alive where Presleys voice has adapted a Ray Davies-like accent.
In contrast to the Kinks, White Fence eschews the immediacy of hooks in favor of impenetrability. One rare moment of catchy cadence comes in the form of Stranger Things Have Happened, which dips into the world of country and incorporates a toy piano to complement the twang. “The Mexican Twins/Life is… Too $hort” gives the album its most unexpected turn, as Tim Presleys voice is suddenly shifted to an eerie doppelganger of Madlib. Surprises such as these make Is Growing Faith more than just another throwback.