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Mando Diao - Ode To Ochrasy

Mando Diao, Ode To Ochrasy

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

HAVING impressed with their last album Hurricane Bar Swedish indie-rockers Mando Diao return with the curiously named Ode To Ochrasy, an epic effort that occasionally has trouble separating the great from the average.

Headed by the prolific songwriting partnership of Gustaf Norén and Björn Dixgård, the band claim influences ranging from The Jam and The Kinks to Dolly Parton and Phil Spector.

But while they possess a keen sense of melody and plenty of indie-guitar band traits, Ode To Ochrasy is a little too prone to moments of laziness where the band seem content just to play things loud for the sake of it.

Lyrically, many of the songs are variously inspired by terrorists, ice hockey stars and your average oddball.

As Noren states: “We’ve become oddball magnets. And we love them. The hours after the show are the best. Either people come backstage or we meet weird characters in bars.

“So there are lots of references to all those sorts of strange persons on Ode To Ochrasy.”

Curiously, the album is at its best when reigning in the oddball and relying on the more straightforward.

The Wildfire (If It Was True) is an early standout courtesy of its keen sense of melody and classic indie-rock vibe, while Josephine slows down the tempo and produces one of the most layered tracks on the album – building towards some violin-based strings and a resonance that’s missing from some of the brasher material.

Nice too is The New Boy, a track that’s nicely augmented by some fine violin, cello and viola.

Song For Aberdeen is a fine bundle of energy that’s sure to keep the feet tapping, while vocal duties are swapped for Ochrasy, one of the more haunting songs that clearly takes its cues from Noel Gallagher-penned acoustic Oasis.

There’s an almost old-school Zeppelin vibe surrounding the gritty guitar hooks of San Francisco Bay, one of the more memorable stadium-fillers, before With Or Without Love adopts a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club approach that’s really invigorating.

Had the album been a little leaner and concentrated on delivering more of such cracking moments, then perhaps it would have been stronger as a complete package.

But strong songs such as San Francisco Bay and Josephine are let down by more mundane offerings such as Killer Kaczynski, a song about alleged Unabomber Theodore Kacynski, a Harvard genius turned reclusive terrorist, that’s a little too brash for its own good, throwing in trumpet and manic tendencies at every opportunity.

Long Before Rock ‘N’ Roll is another track that just belts things out without really registering, much like Moonshine Fever, You Don’t Understand Me and Tony Zoulias (Lustful Life).

The result is an album that’s never less than entertaining but which gives rise to the suspicion that it could have been ever better.

Download picks: The Wildfire (If It Was True), Josephine, With Or Without Love, The New Boy, San Francisco Bay, Ochrasy

Track listing:

  1. Welcome Home, Luc Robitaille
  2. Killer Kaczynski
  3. Long Before Rock’n‘roll
  4. Wildfire (If It Was True)
  5. You Don’t Understand Me
  6. Tony Zoulias (Lustful Life)
  7. Amsterdam
  8. TV & Me
  9. Josephine
  10. New Boy
  11. Morning Paper Dirt
  12. Good Morning, Herr Horst
  13. Song for Aberdeen
  14. Ochrasy
  15. San Francisco Bay
  16. With Or Without Love
  17. Moonshine Fever
  18. Chat Baker