Oh Sees - Orc LP

(Castle Face, 2017)

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“…on a recent string of releases with a double-drummer formation, Dwyer and co. have gradually drifted further and further away from Thee Oh Sees’ garage-punk and psych-pop tent poles into more ephemeral spaces.

With Orc, the band consolidate the strengths of their joint 2016 releases, A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances, streamlining their grab-bag experimentation into a more fluid flow and quasi-conceptual framework (well, at least as much as we can assume its fantastical references to castles, warriors, and beasts are somehow connected). Here, the shred-ready opener “The Static God” isn’t just another case of Oh Sees doing their motorik-maniac act, but rather a last-blast rocket ride to parts unknown, its stratosphere-breaching velocity eventually cooled by a cloud-parting organ drone that hints at the more patiently paced music to come.

The song also sees Dwyer adopt a campier, glam-kissed vocal tone. Throughout the record, he sounds as eager to mess around with his singing as the music: the glorious, steamrolling sludge of “Animated Violence” is the closest Oh Sees have ever gotten to metal, with Dwyer dropping comically Gene Simmons-esque growls in between gleaming Thin Lizzy arpeggios. But there is perhaps no better gauge of Oh Sees’ recent evolution than the mid-album colossus “Keys to the Castle.” From the outset, it follows the familiar Oh Sees battle plan of pitting a propulsive rhythm and mischievous melody against shocks of guitar fuzz that double as de facto choruses. Then, two minutes in, it dissolves into a mesmerizing extended coda of cloudy organ tones and snake-charming strings that gradually lull the song to a blissful rest past the eight-minute mark.” - Stuart Berman for Pitchfork