I’m sure we’ve all listened to a new album from a band we love, only to hear that something has changed. Sometimes, it can be difficult to identify, and sometimes it’s more obvious. With the new record from Osta Love, it took several listens for the change to become apparent. The album is called “About Time”, and it releases on July 3rd.
Osta Love come to us from Germany. The current line up consists of Tobias Geberth on guitars, vocals, keyboards, and bass; and Leon Ackermann on drums and percussion. This band started out as a two man project with 2013’s “Good Morning Dystopia”, but morphed into a four person line up for 2015’s masterpiece, “The Isle of Dogs”. With “About Time”, the band is back to the original duo, and I’m afraid it may have affected their sound.
Don’t get me wrong: this is a solid album. The band plays a melodic, slightly quirky progressive rock. You will hear plenty of Twin Peaks-inspired melodies, sounding almost mysterious and also hopeful, and there is an air of indie rock that hangs about their style. You’ll hear amazing keys (as always, Tobias is a master on the keyboard), expressive guitars, and this overall chamber or club feeling. Notice also the absolutely stunning artwork for this album which I fully expect to be one of my favorites this year.
The music has changed somewhat, being more straightforward this time. I don’t find fault with that, as the melodies are excellent, the bass is lively and interesting, and there are some very unique moments scattered throughout the album. It is certainly less textured and dramatic than their last album, having less whimsy and less focus on communicating images to our minds. Still, it’s beautiful music.
I thought at first that the change in music was what I was noticing, but there is something more important than that missing. This album reminded me more of the band’s debut, and I couldn’t place why, but then I realized that “The Isle of Dogs” featured Tobias and and former member Marcel harmonizing their vocals precisely and vividly. That is what I am missing here. I understand that bands don’t stay the same, but it almost feels like Tobias is struggling to hit notes or come down from high notes at a stead pace, especially on the first few tracks. The result is some moments where Tobias feels very much out of tune, and it brings me right out of the immersive experience. Tobias and Marcel were able to work together to fill in each other’s gaps, and it sounded amazing.
“About Time”, as I mentioned, is a solid album, one with some great tunes, but none that reach the heights of their last album. Right out the gate, I’d have to mention that the first half of the album is far weaker than the second half. I really like “Oscillating” with its catchy chorus and stunning keyboard solo (maybe my favorite so far this year), and “We Can Do It Again” and “Desert Shuffle” are both serviceable singles that are fun to hear. “Moth to Flame” is probably the best song on the first half, with more oomph and edge.
The second half, though, feels much more alive. “Nights of Aphelion” feels like it could have been on their last album, as it features a stunning, vibrant chorus, a wonderful central melody, and a shadowy atmosphere. “The Waters of the Nile” is similar in some respects, only it gets more of a rock vibe, though it still feels painted with watercolors. “Amethyst Deceiver” is my favorite song on the album, with feelings of nostalgia and adventure, plus an evocative chorus that I really like. The title track ends the album with an acoustic ballad that is pleasant and fades away nicely.
Overall, “About Time” is a good album, but there are moments where the progress the band had made on their last record feels missing or empty. The vocals are a bit of a mixed bag at times, too, and I can’t seem to get past noticing that. I know I will enjoy this album quite a bit on the vinyl copy I ordered, and I may come to like it even more. As for first impressions, though, this is more on par with the debut, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but certainly negates the progression in sound the band had achieved.
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