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O Emperor - Vitreous (Review)

O Emperor, Vitreous

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IRISH outfit O Emperor deliver their sophomore album in the form of the highly distinct, and entirely eclectic Vitreous.

Billed as the band’s most potent and distinct work to date, this finds heavily distorted drums taking their place alongside syrupy analogue synths and filthy, fuzzy guitars. Yet it can equally strip things back to ethereal states that have an almost hypnotic effecy.

The ensuing collection of songs takes you on a journey that contrasts moments of thought-provoking calm with more invigorating rushes of energy.

For my money, it’s at its best when picking up the pace, with tracks like Contact standing out by virtue of their relentless rhythms and gutsy guitar work. It carries a real old school rock vibe that’s impossible not to get behind.

Similarly, Holy Fool thrives on a distinct guitar hook (that’s almost siren-like) and a driving percussion that works well in tandem with the psychedelic, falsetto vocals. It throbs along and sweeps you up in its enthusiasm.

Of the quieter moments, Whitener (Part 1) has a trippy quality that recalls classic Pink Floyd and more contemporary Polyphonic Spree, while Brainchild toys with some similarly playful melodic structures to lend it almost a hippy, summer of love vibe.

Elsewhere, there’s a joyous, and self-consciously retro feel about the happy-clappy Land Of The Living, which declares itself to be “happy to be wrong” over the sort of string arrangements that ELO would be proud of, while Soft In The Head draws on a cinematic piano score as a bedding and some fragile vocals to impart its tale (albeit less successfully).

This Is It, meanwhile, rounds things off with a slow-builder that sometimes recalls the ambitious layering and vocal style of classic ’70s Bowie.

Overall, Vitreous may be an acquired taste. But it’s never less than fascinating. And sometimes quite thrilling.

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Download picks: Holy Fool, Contact, Land of the Living

Track listing:

  1. Grandmother Mountain
  2. Holy Fool
  3. Whitener (Part 1)
  4. Brainchild
  5. Contact
  6. Minuet
  7. Land of the Living
  8. Soft in the Head
  9. This Is It