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Ovlov - Tru (Album Review)

Monday, 23 July 2018 Written by Liam Turner

There are several ways for records to stand out. They might say something meaningful, or push the boundaries of a genre. Others are so good at purveying a particular mood and atmosphere that they don’t need to do much else. Ovlov’s second album, ‘TRU’, is one of those.

It’s a bit of an understatement to say Ovlov have had a turbulent history. Over the course of the band’s decade-long existence, they’ve split up three times and endured countless line-up changes. The one constant has been their distortion-drenched sound.

It’s a style that evokes contemporary fuzz-rockers like Yuck and Cloud Nothings but also the ‘90s alt-rock of giants like Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. There’s nothing entirely original about Ovlov’s sound, but it’s one that they’ve almost perfectly refined.

On ‘TRU’, further finesse come from the vocals of frontman Steve Hartlett (also known for his work with Stove). While they were once harsh and jerky, they’re now soft and wispy.

In isolation, that doesn’t represent much of a drastic change, but when paired with the hypnotic haze of the guitars and the overall nostalgic malaise of the record, the result is something akin to alchemy.

Spright is a prime example, ith its slow-strummed guitars and lackadaisical rhythm evoking a the dying days of a long, hot summer. Hartlett’s melancholic lyrics compound the sentiment. “I run for better days,” he hums on the first subdued verse before overdriven guitars come crashing in once more.

Ovlov do have the fuzz thing nailed - you’d be hard-pressed to find a band who sound fuzzier - but at times it gets a bit much. On the blistering Fast G pretty much everything, including the vocals, has been flooded in colossal amounts of lo-fi distortion. No, your speakers aren’t broken, this is what the song is supposed to sound like.

There isn’t that much substance here, either. Songs are short and mostly sound the same, and the lyrics are sometimes indiscernible and sometimes not worth discerning at all. But, really, none of these foibles matter much in the grand scheme of things because, again, Ovlov have absolutely nailed the mood of this record. All you’ve got to do is sit back, relax and let the whole thing wash over you like a wave.

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