Album Review: Otherkin – OK

By on Wednesday, 27th September 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Otherkin OK album coverWhile not necessarily anything brand new, Otherkin’s sound is something that’s certainly missing at the moment. A garage brashness that’s not been heard since the likes of The Strokes and The Vines over a decade ago, it’s a throwback to a time we all wish we could revisit. Well, with their debut outing ‘OK’, we can.

When an album opens with screeching reverberation, you know it’s going to hold a wild nature that’ll capture you, and ‘OK’ certainly does. Once the screeching gives way to the urgent drum beat, ‘Treat Me So Bad’ kicks into life with a “let’s go” and a bass line not too dissimilar from Violent Femmes’ ‘Blister in the Sun’, but with a refusal to relent.

It’s this structure that serves them so well throughout, you can’t help but feel like you’re constantly smoking on a street corner, pulling off your finest, ‘give a fuck’ stare. ‘Come On, Hello’, goes for the classic move of repeating the song title throughout the chorus, one that’s worked since the dawn of time, and for good reason. The ability to get that chorus firmly rooted in your head is any band’s greatest asset. I guarantee you’ll have “do it again, come on, hello” ringing around inside your head for days. ‘Ay Ay’ goes for the same strategy. Another hooky chorus that sings about “wanting another hit on the radio”, a straight play from the handbook of early-Noughties’ garage. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t feel like the plays they have lifted are being challenged. Instead, they are just facsimiles. ‘Feel It’ and ‘Yeah, I Know’ once again rinse and repeat the same ideas

It’s ’89’ that brings out a bit more from Otherkin. Immediately less direct, the wandering sound calls back to all of the above but finds new ways of coaxing out the urgency but doesn’t rely wholly upon it. The chorus cascades in with a more focused tempo, paving the way for the crescendo. This is brought forward by a bridge that stays away from any repetitiveness and instead uses its stalking bass line as a propellant.

‘Enabler’ further brings out a bit more of that forward-pushing angle Otherkin sadly stay away from in the first half of this album. ‘Razorhead’, while on the surface it has the same feel as the first half of the album, there’s an underlying approach that feels more carefully thought out, making every second count. The more you listen to ‘OK’, the more you begin to understand that the second half of the record is certainly stronge. Feeling more driven, it shows Otherkin staking their claim to the genre rather than copying others that have come before. ‘Bad Advice’ is the shortest cut on the record, but it gets to everything it needs to without rushing or feeling cramped. There’s a carefree effortlessness that just can’t be planned, like something naturally flowing that just comes out.

‘I Was Born’ continues this better trend, bringing out a side to Otherkin that pushes forward again. Still pretty basic four-on-the-floor rock, but once again it’s a much deeper feeling and understanding that they bring forward that adds a captivating edge. ‘React’ goes for simplicity once more, but finale ‘So So’ is the jewel in the crown of ‘OK’. The longest cut at a little over 5 minutes minutes, it’s a searing powerhouse until it falls away to a glittering guitar line and building drums. You know where this is going. With a blistering roar back into life, ‘So So’ sees this album home with a complete viciousness. All the sounds meld together to form one final behemoth that you almost circles back to the introductory screeching.

Like many rock albums, the fun can begin to wane after a while. Sure, for the first few tracks you’re catapulted back to a time that was as dangerous as it was carefree. But there’s only so much looking backward you can do before you need to eventually move forward. Luckily, Otherkin see that home in the second half of the record, making ‘OK’ a smouldering debut that’ll get you dancing about with reckless abandon in no time.

7/10

‘OK’, the debut album from Dublin rockers Otherkin, will be out on this Friday, the 29th of September on Rubyworks Records. The band will be touring the UK starting the 30th of September through October, some dates supporting InHeaven and others as headline shows of their own. Catch up on all of our past coverage here on TGTF on Otherkin through this link.

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