Odd Palace – ‘Things To Place On the Moon’ (Album Review)
If you’ve ever wondered what a jam involving The Mars Volta, Coheed And Cambria, Protest The Hero, and The Cat Empire might sound like, Things To Place On The Moon is the answer to that unspoken question. Odd Palace throw all of the above into a blender while leaning heavily on heavily effected guitars, expensive-sounding chords, and syncopated riffage – and they’ve come up with a genuinely unique sound with tons of potential.
Things To Place On The Moon really comes to life under headphones. The bass/drum grooves turned to for verse after verse become moving and immersive; the acoustic fingerpicking that permeates title track and album centrepiece Things To Place On The Moon makes an immediate, mournful impact from the first moments onward; and countless artfully indulgent lead lines thrive under the most detailed and expansive conditions. Odd Palace have managed to compose and perform some extremely intricate yet catchy songs, and they really deserve to be heard in the most appropriate circumstances.
Opening track Carnivore is by far the best track on this album. From top-class alt-rock riffs to perfectly mixed horns, passionate vocals and a punchy chorus, even a Rage Against The Machine-style buildup into a metallic motherfucker of a beatdown, it’s damn near perfect. The only possible improvement would’ve been a busier, even shred-happy solo; the one that exists on record here feels a little too melodic given the previously over-the-top context.
Aside from its title track, Things To Place On The Moon never quite manages to equal the heights hit so stylishly during Carnivore. The intro to Chemical Solutions is sick, building that all-important anticipation before letting it fizzle out with a very brief held-chord-and-bent-note combo. The riff that follows does get heavy, but feels awkwardly restrained mix-wise – and so the whole pales in comparison to Carnivore.
The rest of this album runs afoul of a few common issues. Musically, Odd Palace’s ideas are usually great – but the mix frequently fails to do them justice, sucking out just enough soul and energy to turn potentially intense sections into underwhelming disappointments. Structurally, the songs tend to be overly formulaic – and while Carnivore is awesome enough to overwhelm anyone’s analytical side, and Things To Place On The Moon moves through so many mood shifts that you’ll be blissfully lost for nearly a quarter of an hour, the others usually feel like a list of sections rather than flowing, immersive compositions. Finally, the lyrics frequently come across as cheesy and awkward – but again, Carnivore is the stunning exception.
Overall, Odd Palace have set the bar incredibly high with a certain pair of tracks – and they will match them in the future. No doubt about that. But unfortunately, the rest of the songs on this album, while made up of quality ideas, are more displays of groundbreaking potential than solid-gold winners in their own right.
LTK RATING: 75%
Things To Place On The Moon drops May 25; pre-order it on iTunes.
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