So right around a week ago, O.A.R. released a new album that I’ve finally got around to reviewing. The timing of my day started to run a bit late but here it is, in the time that is still technically Monday for my timezone. I vaguely remember hearing an O.A.R. song before but i can’t remember liking it or what song it was so this is going to be as much a trip for me as it’s going to be for you readers.
The opening track, Two Hands up, had a very unexpected beginning that made me think of sound effects out of various scifi flicks. As it carried on into the main meat of the song I noted that it was rather vocal heavy in the best way. I probably did like that song I heard that I can’t remember. The backing instruments and vocals flowed perfectly together. I especially loved the way it seemed to ‘power down’ at the end. The second track was distinctly more melodic in the beginning, making the explosion of sound during the bridge and chorus pop all the more when it it. The guitar was the instrument that I seemed to notice the most in this song. Overall I was struck with a hazy summer montage feel to this track, and it was very relaxing to me.
The third track, entitled peace, was a mix of guitar and vocals for me. Overall it was a very slow and beautiful song that I’d attach to slow dances in general. It’s a gorgeous track in general, and one of the few slower songs that may stay at the back of my mind. The Element is the fourth track on the album, and the slow crescendo of sound was complemented by the sparse vocals at first, but as it built I began to notice the drums and the overall beat and rhythm of the vocals. It fast became my favorite track at this early stage in the album. I noticed that the ending had a very vague sound similarity to a song by The Who that I only recognize from the CSI spin off it was in for the title credits.
The fifth song, which was also the halfway point, on the album had an odd sound that was very familiar to me that I just couldn’t place at first, but it kept up the beat to the words. The saxophone interlude was very interesting and ear catching but overall I heard the beat over the lyrics. Unfortunately track five is high ranked to me presently, but track six was a return to melodic from the beat and rhythm heavy fourth and fifth tracks. It was a lot slower than the previous two songs, but it made up for it by being absolutely gorgeous musically and vocally.
The seventh track on the album is titled The Architect, and it had the same echoing scifi sounding beginning that slowly got weirder with the addition of trumpets that vaguely reminded me of a mariachi band’s sound. The instruments were dominant over the vocals, but everything flowed together wonderfully. Despite the very odd and unexpected style of music shocking me in the beginning, it was a very enjoyable song. The eighth song on the album was a return to a sound that was easily traced to the rest of the album. it was vocal focused for me, with the guitars being a close second throughout the song. It was a bit boring for me, to be honest, and I found myself wondering why it was so lengthy at times. It wasn’t a bad song, it just didn’t hook me.
The ninth track, Caroline the Wrecking Ball, was intriguing by it’s title alone. It opened with melodic vocals and a lightly strummed guitar. It started to build little by little, but it didn’t go straight to what my mind jumped to at the thought of what it could be. however, the slow build of the song was the perfect way to handle the song. The build continued through the majority of the song, the instruments and vocals flowed together wonderfully. There was another saxophone solo before the song slowed down again for a moment, before immediately picking up the tempo it had had before the solo.
I’ll be honest, I was taken aback when I saw the final song was nine minutes long. I was willing to give it a shot, but after the seven minute song that had preceded it I wasn’t sure I could last through another slow song, as pretty as it was. The build was quicker than it had been in track nine, and it was around that that I thought I’d get through, but it dropped back to the slow tempo it had opened with. It had done it’s job though, because I was hooked. It was vocal heavy at the slow tempos, but the instruments ruled when the tempo was built up. After the second build the tempo stayed up for a while, and the vocals and instruments reached a sort of balance. There was another sudden drop, but it was considerably shorter before the tempo reached back up and the balance of vocals and instruments returned for a period of time before it dropped to a slower tempo ruled by the balance of vocals and instruments. It wasn’t quite as slow as the tempo that had opened the song, but it was less than the builds that had preceded it. After a time it built to it’s own sort of climax before dropping into a slow tempo again, with emphasis on guitar and vocals, with just a sprinkling of saxophone in the background. The rise and fall pattern that the song had established continued throughout, with several shifts of focus for me. This song will certainly keep you on your toes as you listen to it.
All in all, The Rockville LP was a very interesting album and there are probably several details that I’ll notice when I listen to it again, and I will most certainly be listening to it again