Odawas – The Blue Depths

Odawas – The Blue Depths

www.jagjaguwar.com www.konkurrent.nl

 

A strange one this. It features 80s synths and blissed out vocals. It’s a bit ambient, a bit indie, a bit slacker, a bit…of a mess? Well, no. Not at all. Despite the fact that album opener The Case of the Great Irish Elk manages to combine the aforementioned 80s synths, piano, a bit of vocoder, and – get this - a harmonica solo. Whilst everything suggests it will be awful it’s actually a very well crafted and moving song. Swansong for the Humpback Angler has distinct echoes of The Blue Nile. It has an utterly lame programmed drum track and ethereal (80s) synths. But imagine if Neil Young was singing, and there was a bit of a country vibe. It’s great.

 

Our Gentle Life Together is appropriately gentle, with plucked banjo, cello-style synths and falsetto crooning. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s being said, such is the amount of reverb on the vocals, but it doesn’t really matter, as the synth washes, along with the rest of the orchestration, suggest that the title is perfectly apposite. The Sound of Lies is a bit beatier, and the synths propel the song forward more insistently than elsewhere on the album. It’s probably the most ‘backward’ looking track in the sense that it feels as though it really could be a long lost 80s classic.

 

And so the album continues, mixing styles and genres with gentle abandon. At times the mix feels slightly contrived, and the 80’s styling oppressive, but when it all goes well, as it does most of the time, it’s as though you’re listening to a collaboration between Eno, the Blue Nile and Neil Young. Well, maybe it’s not that good, but hopefully you get the idea. There’s something a bit off-kilter about the whole thing, though it is hard to say what it is. Let me put it another way - it’s a bit like watching a Moviedrome film back when Alex Cox was in charge – commendation indeed.

 

Words: Chris Dawson