ownstairs in a semi-detached house there’s a place where the summer sun is about to set; discarded parts of the Financial Times litter the floor and coffee fuels a mind that is being plugged by ODESZA’s In Return.
As I read, ODESZA plays in the background. The Russians have explicitly invaded Ukraine, challenging their sovereignty and are likely to choke the lifeblood of a nation in gas exports; the Scots are about to vote on the Union of Great Britain;
that it alter a mood and inject
The world is collapsing for people and their communities in areas that have always been fragile, as the world is, but with the crumbling effect that right now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but home. The question is, does ODESZA, by the end of the album In Return, make one want to explore this ever-crumbling world or just sit at home and drink coffee? Is it too much to ask of an album that it alter a mood and inject missing confidence? It never used to be, nor should it be now.
Let’s see. I’m drinking my coffee. ODESZA enters the room with ‘Always This Late’ (not ‘Always This Latte’? – Ed.). The entry pace of the track places importance on metronomic timing of ‘clap’ sounds that are comfortably accompanied by guitar strums rising high and dropping low across the start of the track; the weight of the world is being put into line along my vertebrate as I bend to write. The strums and ‘claps’ pull up together for a ear-awakening drop of sorts when the entry of a high-pitched and penetrating vocal sample plays in. The track then continues to uplift, whirling away and eclipsing the metronomic background rhythm. It’s a promising start to the album.
Sit-down dancing is really hard, this is exemplified by one trying to listen to the second song on this album ‘Say My Name’ (featuring Zyra) and write at the same time. Roll one and dance, methinks, I’ll come back to this one. There’s a good feeling coming of this record already and ‘Say My Name’ is probably annoying the neighbours. It’s the kind of track that says “Let’s throw a fucking party right now!”, get the barbeque out and live the setting sun out before winter starts putting a downer on things.
A head nod and wiggle drum beat mixure of sorts is a entrée to main beat which layers on top. Piano enthused main beats compete with ballistic percussion when Zyra’s voice comes in. The track thirds into euphoria and revs up with vocal harmonies into the middle phase before it casually winds down. Throughout, Zyra places a few well-worded sentences together and the beat of the drum hits heavy.
As an enhancement to the caffeine high I’m experiencing, the knee-bending opening drop to ‘Bloom’ is category A. It kicks in, it kicks out. It’s a pair of chunky Kickers with those flat laces.‘Bloom’ is pure undulated electronica mixed with vocally potent backing, a decent follow up to ‘Say My Name’ and slightly more chilled towards the end.
R&B though, should be banned from featuring in outright electronica. Like jamming double A batteries in my tv remote, it just don’t fit. Unfortunately this is what happens in ODESZA’s fourth track ‘All We Need’. It’s all going well, then Shy Girls come in and fuck the place up like some R&B skinny white boy.
Unlike ‘Sundara’: one for the electronica purists, the song is purity and clarity of sound; a drowned rat festival-goer sees the light coming over the horizon type of track, very hypnotic.
Jenni Potts has a voice that pairs well with electronica, and featuring on the track ‘White Lies’ doesn’t disappoint. Like a funnel of finely-tuned air, Potts enters the fray of In Return, her voice opens a winter wonderland intro which then seasons towards a summer uplift of electronica from ODESZA. It’s all very meteorological, this album. The lyrics are sublimely sung, the accompaniment an Indian summer styled groove. Go dance people.
‘Kusanagi’, following, is a wind down track; it balances the album superbly.
The aforementioned queasy R&B/Electronica spectre overshadows ‘Echoes’ though. PY is a strong vocalist, but the song flounders between two genres and is messy to say the least.
Trying to pick this album up again is Zyra, featuring on ‘It’s Only’ with ODESZA landing big heavy hits of reverb and pronounced drops throughout the track. A truly expressive song that allows Zyra to vocalise her brooding, lightly architectured and freely organic voice; well worth the listen.
On ‘Koto’, ODESZA lets the listener relax by placing head high euphoric notes together. The track then drops into a sideways-spinning cacophony of sound: broken beats and sampled voiceovers entwine to move the body and bend the ears.
‘Memories That You Call’ (featuring Monsoonsiren) is a blast : a track for a big tent at a festival, bass throbs flapping the canvas.
Landing again like a agile cat, ODESZA winds up taut on ‘Sun Models’ (featuring Madelyn Grant), whilst, like the finish to a good book, the conclusion track ‘For Us’ (featuring Briana Marela) leaves the listener wanting more.
And now back to reality, whack! In response to the question of whether to explore the crumbling world or sit and drink coffee, ODESZA answers with escapism. Choose either, but either way you’ll be escaping something.Odesza