It’s 2017, and the electronic pop market is a crowded one. The emergence of platforms like Soundcloud have had an undeniable impact on this particular style of low tempo, ethereal music in the mainstream, making it harder for talented groups like ODESZA (AKA Seattle duo Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight) to carve out an identity in such a cluttered landscape. This is something that’s proved challenging for the pair on their third studio album.
‘A Moment Apart’ begins strongly, with the title track combining an early ‘90s rave beat with soaring strings. Following track ‘Higher Ground’ is an out-and-out pop smash, with guest vocalist Naomi Wild delivering a simultaneously delicate and anthemic chorus. The project continues strongly with tracks like ‘Line of Sight’, the infectious ‘Late Night’ and the Leon Bridges-assisted ‘Across The Room’. The soul singer provides a much appreciated change of pace on this song, slowing things down after the intensity of the first few tracks.
Yet the second half of ‘A Moment Apart’ fails to be as engaging or energetic as the first, not expanding nor improving on anything in the opening five or six tracks. Cuts like ‘Everything At Your Feet’ and ‘Falls’ simply aren’t as powerful or sufficiently different to ‘Higher Ground’ or ‘Line of Sight’ to make much impact. The project loses steam towards the tail end of the album, primarily due to this lack of variation.
There are some highlights later on, with the intense and uplifting ‘La Ciudad’ providing some much needed energy towards the record’s climax. The album doesn’t end on a whimper, though, as the final track ‘Corners of the Earth’ is a suitably mesmerising and majestic closer.
At fifteen tracks, ‘A Moment Apart’ feels stretched, verging on indulgent given the lack of variety throughout the project. The album would have benefitted from being far more concise, cutting tracks like ‘Show Me’ and ‘Divide’, which come across as paler retreads of earlier cuts. While ‘A Moment Apart' has the foundations of a great album, ODESZA fall slightly short of the mark.
Words: Will Rosebury
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