Owel – Owel
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: January 18, 2013
It’s sort of a wonder that any of us consume media anymore. That sounds crazy, but in ADD-merica the sheer multitude of outlets make it nearly impossible to stop on any one thing for more than a commercial break. A 2-minute Youtube video might as well be 11 hours long. And with an ornate pop album like Owel’s self-titled record, with runtimes over 6-minutes and builds that marinate longer than a brisket, how can we be expected to not only give a damn, but just give a moment?
I’ll pause while we all pop a Zoloft. But here’s the deal: let’s just hope we still harbor the gene that made us sequester ourselves in our rooms for hours at a time with just headphones and a discman. Having attachments to stuff is fun! And despite my commitment issues, I've certainly nurtured quite a relationship with Owel. The ways their songs relentlessly build to jazzy guitar grooves, angelic vocal harmonies or just straight-up wall of sound ish make for an album that needn’t hurry to get your blood rushing. One of Owel’s many standouts, “Burning House” is a true chameleon. Breathy vocals, coffee-shop guitars and swelling strings artfully disguise a climactic finale that might end up as this year’s most thoughtful headbanger. Lines like, “And I’ve tuned out any hope of some resolve…/I need the house to stay burning, for a while,” speak to one of those moments of maturation when we realize the past has to stay where it is.
This sort of build Build BUILD happens time and again without becoming stale. Because how can such drama ever feel boring? “Death in the Snow,” which features Kevin Dye of Gates, is an overwhelming bit of theatricality and “Once The Ocean” is a sparse electronic number in-line with a band like The Cinema. While this is not exactly an organic album, in that each bit feels so fine-tuned, it is certainly personal and relatable. It takes quite a bit of honesty to sing lines like, “Stay forever weary, for I’ve been quite the bastard posing sweet.” Not often do you hear dudes in this brand of music admitting so much fault. But hey, it’s another reminder that you have to dive into stuff to get all the way there.
Wherever you go on Owel, from the twee-ish “Progress” to the schizo battle-scene closing music of “Reborn,” this is a record that takes dynamics to new levels. I sometimes picture this band playing live shows as if there is an opera going on behind them. Just lots of ups, downs, action, probably blood, definitely some tears and, ultimately, resolve that reminds us things can end the right way if we keep up our determination. You simply can’t create an album with this much dichotomy and not understand that life is overwhelmingly complicated. On “Field Mouse” we hear, “I never was quite careful enough with the things that I loved / But I knew / Yes I knew it would hurt / But I never did learn from the pain.” Sometimes even what we know to be true is still unattainable. But that doesn’t always have to be the case, and if we’re willing to take the time to try and learn, the unattainable stops seeming so impossible.
Recommended If You Like: Sleeping At Last, Copeland, Gates
3. Burning House
4. Death in the Snow
5. Nothing’s Meant
7. Once the Ocean
8. Unforgiving Tide
10. Field Mouse