Osees: Intercepted Message [Album Review]

Intercepted Message
In The Red Records [2023]

Osees have adopted several different monikers over the years, showcasing their chameleon-like nature. This American psychedelic rock band originated in San Francisco in the late 1990s. Led by the multi-talented musician and songwriter John Dwyer, Osees’ music has consistently been characterized by its high-energy garage rock sound, interwoven with elements of punk, psychedelia, and even krautrock.

Their discography is extensive and diverse, reflecting a constant evolution of their style over the years. Intercepted Message follows suit, embracing quick-bursting synth work as a central focus, making it the band’s most prominent foray into the new wave genre to date. If you’re familiar with Dwyer’s side project Damaged Bug or some of his more recent free-form work like POSH SWAT, you’ll quickly grasp how this record places synths at the forefront. This progression should feel natural for fans, intertwining with the dual drummers, guitar riffs, hypnotic rhythms, and Dwyer’s distinctive vocals. The result is an incredibly unrestrained and immersive sonic experience.

Intercepted Message maintains the experimental and adventurous approach that Osees fans have become accustomed to. The album opens with “Stunner,” one of the more straightforward tracks on the record, featuring guitar and pounding beats as Dwyer sings, “They’re not so bad for you; All of those drugs you do.” The sizzling keyboard work demands attention, with its quick bursts of ups and downs capturing your ear throughout. The title track stands out as one of the catchiest songs on the album, characterized by Devo-like jerky twists, robotic rhythms, and synth buzz.

Elsewhere on the album, you’ll find the danceable tracks “Die Laughing” and the Blurt cover, “The Fish Needs A Bike,” which starts with Dwyer exclaiming, “Stop! Fuck!” before launching into a repetitive, almost psychotic chant of the title as the overall structure is delivered in a very Captain Beefheart-esque manner. One of the most surprising moments on Intercepted Message is the over-seven-minute-long “Always At Night.” This ballad showcases Dwyer’s hyper focus on his singing, reminiscent of Peter Murphy’s style, and the result is excellent. This approach is a departure from what I initially thought Dwyer was capable of.

Osees’ music continues to offer a thrilling journey through a psychedelic rock landscape, as they consistently push the boundaries of the genre. However, this album might not resonate with everyone, especially fans of Osees’ earlier guitar-fueled work, due to its strong 80s new wave influence. Intercepted Message marks a fresh and innovative direction for Osees. Dwyer’s vocals exude the energy of a twenty-something-year-old with a carefree attitude towards the world. This liberated musical approach is addictive and ultimately encourages repeated listening!

“Intercepted Message” / “Chaos Art” / “Always At Night”

Captain Beefheart / Devo / The Cars

A Foul Form (2022) / Panther Rotate (2021) / Levitation Sessions (2020) / Protean Threat (2020) / Face Stabber (2019) / Smote Reverser (2018) / Orc (2017) / An Odd Entrances (2016) / A Weird Exits (2016) / Live In San Francisco (2016) / Mutilator Defeated (2015) / Drop (2014) / Singles Collection Volume Three (2013) / Floating Coffin (2013) / Moon Sick EP (2013) / Putrifiers II (2012)

Official Website | Bandcamp | In The Red Records

Thomas Wilde

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