Review Summary: A breath of fresh air in a genre that doesn’t really exist…
t guys. As I sat down to write this review, something… amazing happened
A small television sits to the left of my desk in my bedroom. To be honest, it’s a piece of crap - the reception fades in and out, the screen is about a foot in diameter and it doesn’t have a remote control – but I only ever use to fall asleep anyway. At this particular moment, “Mr. Deeds” was showing. It hadn’t taken me long to establish that the film was probably the low point of Adam Sandler’s ridiculously inconsistent career (fu
ck you Adam Sandler), so I’d muted it in favor of listening to O’ Brother’s The Death of Day
. It was halfway through “Ascension” when it happened; as the gorgeous delayed guitars and pulsing bass built into a climax, my attention drifted back to the television. Although the scene showing on the screen before me was cheesy and melodramatic (the chick is kind of cute though…), this new soundtrack had completely changed it into an epic, heart wrenching delight. Now, let me reiterate that for you: this young five-piece from Georgia transformed an absolute semen stain
on the crotch of Hollywood into a work of art.
This grand quality that O’ Brother commit to their music is the best part of The Death of Day
. Time and time again it walks the narrow line between tedium and pretentiousness, constantly overbalancing yet never quite falling and somehow always maintaining direction and flow. Taking due note of fellow tourmates This Will Destroy You’s parabolic song structure, the youthful quintet’s style itself is an ambiguous mix of post-rock and indie, with subtle hints of post-hardcore scattered spontaneously across the vast soundscapes. Some of the more aggressive, vocal-orientated moments - such as that found towards the tail end of “The Great Release” – are even reminiscent of recent Thrice; Tanner Merrit’s vocals are endlessly synonymous with Krensue’s gravely tones, sharing the compassionate qualities the latter is renowned for. Instrumentally, the band is very orientated and concise, incorporating a simple and effective approach that allows melody to shine.
And oh Lord, please forgive my erection, but do these boys know how to write a melody! Fast-forwarding straight to the epic nine minute closer, “Oh, Charitable Thief” shows band at their most creative and engaging. Growing from a hazy ambience, Merritt’s delicate crooning straddles a lonely bass and a subdued guitar; the lyrics here are beautiful, delicate and elegant, portraying suicide in a tactful and meaningful fashion. “Oh vessel of grace whisper in my ear / Some melodious sonnet of forgiveness / Sweet seraphim won't you sing me to peace…"
The song gracefully blooms, section by section, into a stunning crescendo of violin, tremolo and choir vocals that reflect the transition into the afterlife before gradually disintegrating into a wash of feedback and ambience. This track is astoundingly well constructed – both structurally and harmonically – and demonstrates an unexpected level of maturity and deep thinking for what is the band’s debut.
So as what appears to be “Mission Impossible II” wraps up next to me, I’m going to immerse myself in The Death of Day
once again. There’s no doubt the strong dynamics and consistent, unvarying style of this mini-album will become its Achilles' heel as time goes on – a weakness that the band will eventually outgrow in the future - but it’s far from stale yet; strangely enough, it feels like a breath of fresh air in a genre that doesn’t really exist…
You can download The Death of Day
for free simply by joining O’ Brother’s mailing list. You can sign up at http://obrother.fanbridge.com/