Review Summary: Orchestral rock with a penchant for beauty.
“The sum is greater than the whole of its parts.” This phrase is often used to describe an experience. It means taking the good with the bad, maybe the underwhelming parts of an experience, but looking at them in the context of a greater scheme. Songs in an album may sound horrible out of context, but put them with their partners and suddenly they can become a masterpiece. With Paris
, Owel have done the opposite—the whole is great because each of its individual parts is great in its own right.
Owel have a clearly defined instrumental style. An alternative rock band with post-rock tendencies that incorporate full, lush orchestral soundscapes and have a generous use of electronic components. The sound scapes that they create are absolutely gorgeous. The strings aren’t included as an afterthought or a gimmick; they are at the forefront of what makes Owel’s sound what it is. Gorgeous piano suites are found throughout, often accentuated by electronic sounds. Traditional rock instruments are found throughout the album as well, but never at the forefront, simply as another cog in the atmosphere created. Add Jay Sakong’s dreamy vocals and powerful falsetto and there is pure atmospheric bliss.
As an album itself Paris
has a consistent sound, but it’s difficult to typify it to a consistent genre. As mentioned before, alternative rock with post-rock tendencies is what is found most often. Utilizing this style is also when the band is at its best. Opening track “Weather Report” slowly builds until it immerses the listener in a wall of sound, “Get Out Stay Out” runs six and a half minutes and has a structure that emulates Sigur Ros, with the added benefits of Sakong’s powerful vocals. “Roma White” and “Jumble Gem”, the undoubted highlights of the album, showcase the bands blending of it sounds at their peak. “Roma White” allows each instrument to have a section where they’re highlighted, all while still working perfectly in tandem, with Sakong’s voice serving as its own instrument. “Jumble Gem” instrumentally is absolutely cacophonous, with the closing two minutes finding strings, pianos, voice, synth, percussion, and guitar all building into each other to create a sound that is somehow tense, lovely, and cathartic all at the same time.
With that said, there is quite a bit of genre dipping, which each one being successful. “I Saw Red” dips into dream pop territory, “No Parachutes” and “Funeral” are upbeat lush rockers, and “Didn’t I” wouldn’t sound out of a place as an experimental ballad on a pop-punk album, with a strong focus on the chorus. The most successful, and most out there, of these tracks is “Being Human is Weird”. The strings take a supporting role on this song, with guitar and drums being at the forefront, almost sound like a straightforward rock song. That is until a light electronic breakdown happens with Sakong singing “And wow everybody’s talking/But no one’s saying a damn thing”. What appears to be one of the most straightforward songs on the album takes some of the biggest risks, which pay off in a large way.
For the dreamy environment they create, the lyrics that Owel use are fairly simple. A balance between metaphor and straight forward imagery means that there are no life changing lyrics, with the words almost seeming to serve as part of the sound as anything else. However, this simplicity lends itself to some breathtaking lines, such as in “Weather Report”, which describes a person unfazed by the disasters looming in our world.
But seeing you dance in the smoke
Waving your arms like a beautiful idiot
Makes me believe in the hopes of a day
I'd join you
Overall, Owel creates a beautiful and unique sound on Paris
. Even with the slight inconsistency of styles found across the album, the noise they create blends into a highly consistent album. Each song is as strong as the one before it and the one after it, meaning the listener will never leave the immersiveness of its beauty.