REVIEW: O’Brother – Garden Window

O Brother

Artist: O’Brother
Album: Garden Window
Genre: Rock
Label: Triple Crown/Favorite Gentlemen

On O’Brother’s last effort, 2009’s The Death of Day EP, the Atlanta, Georgia group produced a mix of layered alt-rock and post-rock, which resulted in a collection well-crafted, emotionally charged songs and on the whole, showed a lot of promise.

Two years on, the bands debut full-length, Garden Window sees the quintet growing and taking a huge step forward, as they take you on an intriguing, hour-long musical journey that goes back and forth from experimental to indie rock to softer, (slightly) ambient moments.

One of the first things you’ll notice on Garden Window is how much darker, intense O’Brother sound. From the opening fuzzy guitar chords of “Malum;” you’re welcomed with a thick, edgier sound that on first listen is discomforting yet compelling. Nevertheless “Malum” gives way to “Lo;” a vibrant, energetic number that takes the fuzzy guitar tone of the opener and combines it with a thriving energetic tempo and suitable melody, which gives it a (slightly) much needed sense of calm.

“Sputnik” keeps up the pace and sees producer Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra/Right Away! Great Captain) making an appearance on vocals, who along with frontman Tanner Merritt, brings a passionate delivery that blends with the howling, chaotic sound that the rest of the band produces.

One of the issues I have with Garden Window is its tendency to wallow. Tracks like “Poison” and “Easy Talk (Open Your Mouth)” are prolonged and more than outstay there welcome. However in terms as the record as a whole, they bring a soft, compelling sound which, in places, leaves you mesmerized. For examples Merritt’s quivering vocals “Poison!” plain and simply leave you hanging on to every word.

Nevertheless as the fourteen-minute long “Cleanse Me” shows, these slow, slightly over-bearing moments are justified and are rewarded with powerful, satisfying and stunning pay-offs.

Much like “The Death of Day,” O’Brother once again show they have finely-tuned the soft-louder-louder formula, as “Lay Down” shows. The light vocals suitably build up to a heavy explosion of thick guitar riffs and soaring vocals. It’s a technique that appears throughout Garden Window, and whilst for some it maybe a problem, other will understand how powerful and rewarding it can be.

As mentioned earlier, Garden Window is a musical journey, it ebbs and flows between intense, dark moments and atmospheric, lighter parts, and ultimately becomes a record that is somewhat to pick out stand-out moments. The reason for this, is that the record as a whole is the stand out moment. It’s powerful, passionate approach and musical structure makes Garden Window a engaging, dense record. Although the bands stylistic traits may go off point at times, as a whole O’Brother manage to produce the goods and fulfil the potential they had.

If given time, Garden Window can be a coherent, thought-provoking record that truly delivers on it’s potential, and for O’Brother is a rewarding pay off, both musically and as a band.

SCORE: 8/10

Review written by: Sean Reid

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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