Yes, I realize how horrifying that cover art is. Washington State’s Odd Logic are a band with a substantial history behind them, as “Penny for Your Thoughts” is their sixth album! And I can’t believe I hadn’t heard them before now. These guys have a sound that jives with my nervous system in a way that only my favorite bands do. Now, here’s a little secret: This time around, the album was written and performed by a single person, Sean Thompson. Let’s discuss.
I can’t vouch for what the older Odd Logic albums sound like. I have no idea about that. “Penny for Your Thoughts”, though, is an album that mixes prog metal, progressive rock, and a consistent pop presence to incredible results. What are the results? We are treated to hefty riffs, exquisite swirling keys, spacey interludes, and vocal hooks that will knock your jaw into next week. Everything just seems so…right…on this album. And the fact that Sean has pulled this off all by himself is simply mind-blowing.
Even more incredible, Sean is great at everything! If I have to label his general instrumental style, it would be with the word “lumbering”. That might sound awful, but it’s actually a compliment. His guitars and drums, especially, have a hefty, deliberate sound to them, and this sounds perfect because the composition is so exact and inspired. I especially love the drumming here. It is off-kilter much of the time, featuring great fills and very unexpected beats. His keys, too, are some of my favorite this year. He chose a tone that is retro, but also somehow modern. With this sound, he races back and forth between the guitars and rhythm section with finesse that reminds me of Simon Godfrey of Frost*, for some reason. Lastly, his voice is just unlike anyone else’s that I’ve heard. He has a smooth voice that drips with gravy, but then, when he gets going in the higher ranges, he gets this shriller tone that I have come to love. Either way, he sounds great and sings his heart out for us.
“Penny for Your Thoughts” itself is a concept album that I won’t even begin to try to unravel here. You’ll hear a lot about an island, a guy that wants to escape it, and then something about a concubine. Okay, I’m joking, sorta. The album is actually about a guy with multiple personalities that all come out at the behest of a woman who offers the question, “Penny for your thoughts?” I have my ideas about the plot, but I’ll keep them to myself to avoid a massively incorrect interpretation. Anyways, the album is free on Bandcamp, and it comes with a digital booklet, so you can take a look, as the complete story is written out there.
My favorite songs on this album are strangely specific. While the album starts out strongly with a few amazing tracks that range from spacious to metallic, I feel the album itself revolves around three individual tracks. First, “The Traveler” comes in halfway through the album with a presence. From its engrossing opening groove to the wonderful chorus to the slightly jazzy instrumental, “The Traveler” is probably my favorite track on the album, maybe kinda. After a couple more excellent tracks (especially “Court of Ancient Rulers”), “The Island” comes in with the sole focus of stealing the show. Its opening riffage and vocal fireworks lead into a surprisingly subdued piece with a superb chorus that builds and builds as Sean sings at the top of this lungs. Effectively ending the album (the last track is more of an outro than anything), “Lighthouses” is a track that will rush into your mind and chase out all other thoughts like Jesus in the temple. It’s a straight-up pop song in some ways, but manages to fit in an amazing solo in the second half, and, besides, the chorus is the best on the album, no question. You will be singing this song in the shower.
Thus ends one of my favorite albums of 2016, and I have some random dude that messaged my Facebook page to thank for helping me discover them. Thanks, dude. “Penny for Your Thoughts” is an album that I will not soon forget. I find myself unable to go more than a day or two without hearing it. With its rich story, obvious personality, and divine mix of styles, “Penny for Your Thoughts” is an easy recommendation that I think you will love more than you ever expected. Now, my only question for Sean is this: Do we get a physical release? Thanks for the awesome album, Sean.