Eye To Eye

Omhouse

Independent release, 2018

http://www.facebook.com/omhousetoronto

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/16/2018

On this debut effort, Toronto, Canada’s Omhouse offers jangly pop music of the kind that would take one by surprise. The title track, for example, is slow and dismal and has no real structure, as if it wants to simply languish away after it has deliberately had too much to drink. On the other hand, “Nursery” is buoyant and full of life. It is jangle-pop meets ebullient African-inspired rhythms, resulting in a song that is gorgeous and catchy.

Omhouse does not stick to any formula, and their world is dominated by tunes with chiming dulcet guitars, which keeps things far from predictable. Eye To Eye is an album of catchy numbers. But what comes along with them is also unexpected changes and strange guitar parts that will always keep the listener guessing. One of the weirder cuts here, “Hollowed” is a constant mood swing – from a slow part that is theatrical, to a fast one with drums pounding with a dizzyingly odd rhythm – and has a sort of eccentricity that is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel from his early albums as a solo artist.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band pulls off these unconventionalities through their clever arrangements and great production work. At the same time, some of the odd musical arrangements are not possible without exceptional musicianship. For instance, on the album highlight “Aurock,” the drums and the guitars seem to race against each other to see which one’s faster, all the while keeping up with the beat of the song that keeps constantly changing; but it ultimately sounds altogether blissful. “Is That Enough” is a total rocker with blazing guitars and an odd meter, sounding as if the cut emerged from the belly of a progressive rock outfit with highly technical musicianship.

The artistic capabilities of Omhouse also extends to founder and frontman Steven Foster’s words. His lyrics are beautiful and sometimes seem as if taken from a book of poems, like “Tried to make a sound you could hear across the rocks of the heart’s holy shield, did it bounce off the pointed peaks, did it brush through the Western wheat,” on the wonderfully ominous “Hollowed.”

In addition, Foster’s voice and his delivery of words have a poetic zeal. His youthful but powerful voice, coupled with his crisp lyric delivery, makes not for a shy indie singer, but someone who could sing in musicals with unreserved fervor. With Foster’s vocals, even some of the grim and strange numbers brim with vitality.

Eye To Eye evokes the happy ‘90s jangle pop sounds of The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You” or Crowded House’s “Weather With You.” This record certainly has an undeniable sunny disposition. Also undeniable is its dark and troubled side; the harmony with which these two personalities coexist is crazy. But then, this is a crazy album after all, albeit a cordial and nice “crazy” album.

Rating: B+

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