Woodes
Crystal Ball


3.5
great

Review

by Jesper L. CONTRIBUTOR (49 Reviews)
November 17th, 2020 | 12 replies


Release Date: 10/02/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Introducing: Disney Dream Pop

What makes an album memorable? While there’s an enormous variety of potential answers to that particular question, ranging from ‘cohesive songwriting’ to ‘pretty cover art’, my first thought, unsurprisingly, centers around ‘good music’. Yet, is this truly the case? Wouldn’t a painfully terrible collection of songs be just as (if not all the more) memorable than yet another merely ‘good’ one? It appears that for every such potential answer a direct inverse appears equally applicable: overwhelmingly messy musicianship or repulsive album covers are just as capable of lending an album its memorable qualities.

This brings us to Crystal Ball, the debut album by Australian artist Woodes. The album is memorable for two primary reasons, yet, as positive as they are at first glance, both feel like back-handed compliments. Firstly, throughout its 35-minute runtime, the record fully nails its aesthetics. Elle Graham, the mastermind behind Woodes, seems to aim for a style that can only be described as Disney Dream Pop™, with the soundtrack-esque bombastic-yet-soothing approach to songwriting consistently painting a unique, pleasant soundscape. However, in spite of extensively exploring this relatively uncharted territory, the artist’s songwriting does not consistently match these aesthetic heights required to make for a fully immersive experience. ‘Close’, its quips and quirks notwithstanding, appears to borrow a suspicious amount of its chorus melody from... Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’, of all songs. Likewise, ‘Queen of the Night’ adopts a little too much from Lorde’s ‘Homemade Dynamite’ in the vocal department. As a direct result of this, Crystal Ball ends up, somewhat paradoxically, lacking a clear identity in spite of its unique style and vision.

Secondly, Woodes’ music renders itself highly memorable through its relentlessly catchy melodies. The opening trio of tracks demonstrates this gleefully through a set of highly infectious choruses, with lead single ‘How Long I’d Wait’ being one of the year’s most deliciously cheesy anthems. Similarly, the aptly titled ‘Euphoria’ is a wonderful display of Graham’s vocals consistently and impressively treading the fine line between dreamy and grandiose, detracting from neither the song’s danceable qualities nor its more ethereal tendencies. Yet, as excellent as some of these tracks are, the album as a whole appears to float from catchy chorus to catchy chorus, with little but merely pleasantly aesthetic fluff filling the gaps in between. While this is not a massive problem - a carefree mindset is imperative for fully enjoying the record - it is easy to imagine how much better the likes of ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Distant Places’ could have been with slightly more appealing verses to compliment their massive choruses. This, in turn, makes for an album full of excellent moments, yet somewhat lacking in substance as a full body of work.

Although each positive aspect of Crystal Ball seems to be followed by a ‘but…’, the album is an undoubtedly good time. If anything, its relative lack of personality within a highly unique shell presents a world of potential and opportunities for Woodes’ future projects. Nonetheless, escaping to this picturesque world of Disney Dream Pop is an undeniably pleasant and memorable experience, if primarily for the experience more so than the actual songs.



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user ratings (8)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
November 17th 2020


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

this is probably more like a 3 and most of you will hate this but whatevs it fun!

huge thank to the power duo of ars & someone for proofreading :]

check 'dancing in the rain': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe6cG0Nt89w (also available in minecraft edition fsr)

Digging: Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou - The Helm Of Sorrow

el_newg
November 17th 2020


1103 Comments


the linked song sounds good! if I remember to check this I will check it :D

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
November 17th 2020


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

nice, hope you get around to it el! it's a good time

normaloctagon
November 17th 2020


3689 Comments


yet again I want to pos but u r contrib

have an octa-pos

enjoyed reading this man. mayhaps I will check the tunes this week. liked the one you linked

Digging: Madvillain - Madvillainy

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
November 17th 2020


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

an octa-pos means more than you know!! hope you dig the rest too :]

garas
November 18th 2020


5454 Comments


Cover art rules.
Not sure about the rest though.

Digging: Paysage d'Hiver - Im Traum

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
November 18th 2020


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yeah i think you'd hate this garas haha

TundraL5Z
November 20th 2020


5592 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is pretty cute in an earnest way such as the likes of Coldplay, I can see myself revisiting it and also bumping it up in the future

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2020


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

yay tundra! i've been addicted to euphoria, song is so so fun

bloodshy
November 29th 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I also noticed that Woodes sounds like an amalgamation of other artists. I did notice the Lorde likeness in "Queen of the Night," similarities to Rae Morris throughout, sometimes the vocal distortion makes her sound like Imogen Heap, her falsettos are reminiscent of Sigur Ros, 2:43 in "Close", and Holly Miranda's "Forest Green," at the end of Woodes's "Distant Places."



Even so, she's stealing all the good parts of these fantastic artists, and putting them all in one place. Yes, please.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
November 30th 2020


2180 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

nice bloodshy!! what's your fav song here?

bloodshy
December 1st 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Dancing in the rain"... i love how powerful the projection on her lows is, i can really sink my teeth into it



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