The Electric Bunnies
Through the Magical Door
Florida’s Dying

With three perfectly timed singles making the rounds in the last two years, it’s easy to mistake Florida’s Electric Bunnies as veterans of our collectively imagined underground scene, even without their long-awaited debut album being released. Maybe it’s because it has become so easy to adore what they do, be it bubblegum garage-pop, sun-stroked glue-wave, or equally damaged post-proto-punk (yeah, there’s such a thing brewing in Miami). As such, the Bunnies are a crew impossible to get a read on. The band’s first official LP, Through the Magical Door, will dash and destroy any previous notions of what they are able to accomplish with so few elements and who they could become over the course of two long-playing sides of vinyl. In just one song alone, like standout“Catfish,” they slide from spacey, slightly gothic, garage into a hardcore fit nearing the darkest of no-fi black metal and seamlessly back again. That’s what you get with the Electric Bunnies—anything they fucking want to give you.

As veterans of, at least, my turntable, the Bunnies inhabit a subset of youngish bands bouncing within the same parameters, some playing the standard issue (Thomas Function, the Strange Boys), for which we have bourgeoisie the Black Lips to blame, and some getting downright low-rent nasty every time they attempt to defile the sacred garage rock sound (the Jacuzzi Boys, Wizzard Sleeve). Though the Bunnies tend to hang closer with the latter, Through the Magical Door should elevate them into their own reclusive galaxy. It’s one thing to experiment with industrial clang and gutted electronics, downer folk and sugar-shack bop, but it’s quite another to create a tried and true concept album brimming with invention and vibrancy. Here they make sure to cruise through everything they’ve done with perfect execution before and stretch it even further, suturing wildly divergent interludes and endless death psych-jams to their more traditional pop songs.

After a few indulgent listens (this is one to be shoved down the gullet in one sitting), the first thing you might notice is the swampy, smoke-lunged, sonic canvas on which the music is unraveled. The Bunnies might be the farthest thing from the Hospitals, but for some reason I’m hearing the same bad-acid nether-fidelity that made Hairdryer Peace an instant, unclassifiable classic. It takes patience to weed through the muck of backwards feedback, tubular bells, abject room noise, woodshop field recordings, and telstar transmissisions that shift in and out of even the most direct moments in the group’s songwriting. Again, this is not a record about expectations. The listener is treated to timeless nuggets like “Psychic Lemonade,” which ignites a ? and the Mysterians brushfire, “Marigold Flower,” a slice of refined Texas psych for proper teen courtship, and the vintage punk rebellion of “What’s Your Favorite Thing?” thriving under the loudest of tin roofs. But as hook-filled as those songs are, you have to work to appreciate them. Once you tie them to the big picture, it’s nice to imagine the Bunnies prefer to gravitate to their weirder tendencies, and there are plenty of those throughout Through the Magic Door.

The prospect of a band as green as the Electric Bunnies making their own S.F. Sorrow among the plastic sunshine and tourist trap travails of Florida is enticing. The abstract segues and semi-hokey song titles might elicit some guffaws from the true-bloods, and that’s only because those people don’t have the wherewithal to even dabble in a record this profound. It’s those adventure trips that set the Bunnies apart. It’s safe to say that the spirit on this album was siphoned from time with Can, Throbbing Gristle and the Sun City Girls (witness the Shiva-tinged “Sweet Dreams of My Dear Esmerelda” or the kosmiche prisms in “You’re Not Just Eating Pancakes”) as much as it’s derived from the Seeds, the Troggs, and the Elevators. By throwing a thousand blind eyes at convention, the Electric Bunnies have made one for the ages.
Kevin J. Elliott