Opossom - Electric Hawaii
From past experience, New Zealand-based music more often that not evokes images of raking sandy beaches, smoldering barbeques and happy surfers sipping beers. That is, for us Brits stuck in the blustery sodden clutches of August, the epitome of summer. So a debut album from Kiwi pop/electronica/psychedelica artist Opossom (Kody Nielson) would be expected to bring a bit of sunshine to break up the dreariness and remind us of balmier days.
Opening track 'Girl' is a great start. It has a strong, poppy melody and choruses. It's heavy with funky drums and the heady surf vocals and retro style give off flickers of Beach Boys. All bodes well for half an hour of sunny goodness.
Things look even rosier as the first half of the album turns out to be a handful of impressive short, sharp, uplifting tracks. The drums carry on pumping throughout 'Fly' and 'Blue Meanies' in a quirky electronic manner, the bass takes the lead and the spacey keyboards are all brilliantly mixed together. 'Get Tonight' ups the tempo, into a liquid drum and bass vibe, and autotuned vocals, plenty of harmonies and big choruses signal that beach party time might just have arrived.
'Watchful Eye', though, is where it all starts to go wrong. An attempt at contrasting light sections and heavy distortion turns out to be more jerky than ear-catching and the experimental disharmonious vocals don't work. The track ends up sounding disjointed, slow and a bit of a dirge. 'Why Why' is the same. The abrupt shifts from laid-back 60s style to choral harmonies and overpowering instruments end up just being a wear on the volume dial.
'Cola Elixir' is the most psychedelic offering, and you wish it wasn't. The vocals are repetitive, the chorus is weak and it leads into a title track that is a minute and a half of nothingness.
Sadly, things don't pick up, with the last two songs turning the autotune, the drums and electronic experiments, which had been highlights earlier on, into distracting, overdone gimmicks that make you won't to turn off, culminating in an unpleasant reverb effect in 'Inhaler Song' that makes your subwoofer shudder and your ears hurt, in a bad way.
It's a real shame that an album that starts so promisingly loses its way so dramatically. Had this been an E.P., it could have left a real mark this summer. As it stands, it feels like the ideas have run dry just that bit too early.