Fire Note Says: Owls craft something compelling and infinitely re-listenable, out of its unorthodox and complex style!
Album Review: Odds are pretty good that you have never heard of Owls, or understand why you should be excited that they are releasing their second album after a 13 year absence. I would also think it’s fair to say you might not have heard of Cap’n Jazz or any of the other bands that members of Owls have been associated with through the years, Joan of Arc, Owen, Ghosts and Vodka, but you have probably heard of The Promise Ring, right? I know what you’re thinking, “brainy emo music, I’ll pass”, but you’re wrong. While containing some emo elements, Owls strike me as more math rock oriented, with some shades of Fugazi and Slint thrown in. Do I have your attention now?
Jagged guitars, quiet/loud vocals, and pulsing rhythms are heard throughout the album. This is the record I really expected The Dismemberment Plan to make when they reunited. Nearly every song is a highlight on the album, so it seems silly to list them all, but several are head and shoulders above the rest. “Ancient Stars Seed” is my personal favorite on the album, it starts out fairly low key, but the tension rapidly builds before it is finally released, and flows directly into “It Collects Itself” providing a powerful one two punch. “The Lion” features some powerful drumming and guitar playing, interlocking the song together perfectly through its strange yet thrilling rhythms. The whole album is full of stuff like this, snaky guitar lines and weird time signatures and passionate vocals. It all works to the advantage of the band, who are able to craft something compelling and infinitely re-listenable, out of its unorthodox style. It is challenging music, but in the absolute best sense of the word.
Now that Owls have gotten back together, we should all be hoping that they stay together, and we don’t have to wait another 13 years for their third album! This is certainly a unique way for the band to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, but have no fear, they are better now than they were back then. This is definitely one to check out!
Key Tracks: “The Lion”, “Ancient Stars Seed”, “Four Works of Art”
Artists With Similar Fire: Slint / The Dismemberment Plan / Fugazi
– Reviewed by Kevin Poindexter