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Osees - A Foul Form (Album Review)

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Osees’ 26th (yes, 26th) studio album finds the American psych-scuzz rockers in pretty bad shape. Core member and guitar-druid-in-chief John Dwyer is angrier than ever, and a feeling of doom pervades the record’s 10 tracks. It is a typically beguiling, innovative and exhilarating ride, but not necessarily one that breaks new ground for the Los Angeles-based band.

The title track is a good barometer for the record as a whole. A quicktime punk stomp, it's pitched around a circular guitar riff that is punctuated by a police siren chorus-refrain. As with much of Dwyer’s lyricism, there is a distinctive combination of nihilism underscored by a fucked up decency:  “Why must you exterminate simply with the wish to die? / Living deadly, endless hate, you left morality behind.”

It’s probably a punk album in spirit, with seven of the tracks clocking in below the two-minute mark and track titles like Too Late for Suicide, Scum Show and Fucking Kill Me.

This latter track is one of the album’s strongest, with a sort-of carnival guitar riff backed by technical rhythms that arrive suddenly and more of that distorted shouting. And that is the weakness of the album: it’s pretty one-note.

Over their 25-odd years, Osees have established themselves as one of the most exciting and creative rock bands in the United States. Their ever-changing  output lands between the art-dirge of Iggy Pop and the furious prog noise of the Mars Volta.

This means constant musical evolution and a seeming refusal to look backwards or dine out on their previous catalogue. And that gives the group a rare thing—integrity. But it doesn't guarantee success with every new step in their evolution, and yet one still might hope that evolution continues to the end of the decade and beyond.

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