Sub Pop Records
Cullen Omori pushes mesmerizing sounds like they’re nothing and makes each of his records into a simple but powerful piece of art. For his new record the singer explores his emotions and life with an escapist sense of colour and makes music that really takes you somewhere else. While some songs feel a little too predictable, there’s no moment on the album that will bore you.
As the filters slowly fade away on “Four Years” we’re pulled into a brilliant, shimmering haze of sound for the vocals to guide us through. Hooks dance around while each chorus makes you want to shout right back and the song gets you caught up in more riffs than you expect any track to throw at you. With bass driving on “Borderline Friends” there’s a little more of a predictable writing scheme, but one that feels fully explored by Omori. Alternatively, with a much more open sound and free-flowing vocals, “All By Yourself” feels heavenly and hypnotically psychedelic, as Omori dives headfirst into love.
“Happiness Reigns” glows with bright guitars and a sense of wondrous hope, as the vocals show a sense of exhaustion and resignation. In it all, Omori offers a break and tries to see the silver lining in his excited pop. With blown out horns and guitars, “Master Eyes” shifts into its grooves to explore destructive forces from an imaginative perspective. Though it lacks distinct riff moments, it functions amazingly as a drawn-out mood-piece.
Omori brings out a dazzling wall of sound on “Quiet Girl” to explore the idea of someone with more than meets the eye. By matching the range of his lyrics with the overflowing tones of the track, this song is constantly firing on all cylinders. Discrediting pessimism comes out hilariously on “Black Rainbow” where Cullen seems tired and down with narrow-minded people, and pulls out some classic rock to shake them away. This familiar pop is quickly thrown to the side on “Natural Woman” where Omori quickly swaps in tonnes of different melodic and sonic ideas for something romantic but fresh.
With a name like “Millennial Geishas,” Omori goes all out and crafts a commentary on modern mindsets while trying to take listeners on a journey. As he bounces abstract visual lyrics with familiar sayings there’s a kind of breakdown of language as well that makes the track fascinating. While he takes a much simpler route on “Last Line” there’s an endless sense of fun in it to stay the course and make something relaxing. After this however “A Real You” and “Queen” round out the record on a lot of explorative writing where even the most narrative-focused stories by Omori seem to take handfuls of different directions sonically. Rather than ending the record on a simpering ballad, these songs take the instrumentation to new places while giving us a bang to leave things on.
Words by Owen Maxwell