Devendra Banhart has never hurt for an outlet to address his weirdest impulses— after all, this is an artist whose regular albums have no problem absorbing lyrics about psychedelic squids and marriage to little boys—but he goes quite a bit weirder than usual in Megapuss. The name accounts for the collaboration between Banhart and Priestbird's Greg Rogove, both of whom sing and bang out a nimble mix of time-tucked rock on a debut album with lots of strange, surprising rewards.
It isn't long before Banhart trills in service of fanciful creatures in "Duck People, Duck Man," a song that could have been sung by those Spongmonkey things in the Quiznos commercials. But just as prominent on Surfing is a sense of musical adventurousness more engrossing than any on Banhart albums in the past. Rock (not folk) from the 1960s sets the scene in many of the best songs with electric guitars and full-on drums, and then little ideas creep in—like an ingenious guitar solo that pays tribute to Wham (in "Adam & Steve") and haunting impressions of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" buried beneath the verses of "Hamman."
The all-over aesthetic doesn't always work: The title track sounds like warmed-over Animal Collective in ambient repose, and then toss-offs like the 25-second "Mister Meat (Hot Rejection)" make too little of the notion of singing from the vantage point of a penis. But then the bewitching mood of highlights like the piano ballad "Sayulita" swoop down and save the day.