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O+S
O+S
Saddle Creek Records
www.opluss.com


Before we get to this, let's get the facts out in the open. O+S is the band alias of Orenda Fink (Azure Ray) and Scalpalist (aka Cedric LaMoyne of Remy Zero fame). Orenda + Scalpalist. See? Okay… that said, what this dynamic duo does musically is far more interesting and beautiful than those basic facts. In fact, for the first time in over a decade, I feel like the people who love atmospheric dream pop have something about which to truly rejoice. Recalling some moments of the infamous Cocteau Twins, but with a much more earthy sound, more akin perhaps to bands like Area, O+S' self-titled record is filled with a haunting sound, but avoids the darkness with which much of the genre has been imbued. Building upon a simple drum and bass sound, the album evolves through a myriad of dreamy stages… the simplicity and groove of "New Life" contains traces of early Depeche Mode, while "The Fox" is nearly empty of everything except Fink's lovely voice backing up Fink's Lovely voice and a simple two-note guitar line. "Toreador" lays in some piano flavored by Beatles' ballads and builds to a 4AD-style thickness before "We Do What We Want To" releases a billowing pop sensibility upon the record. There is implicit beauty in the gritty grooves of "Permanent Scar" and "Knowing Animals", two songs that sound very different but contain the same hints at something extremely sinister. The album ends with the low beauty of "Lonely Ghosts", a track that perhaps fulfills the promise of this musical pairing better than any other by taking away and leaving only the most essential and beautiful of sounds… a panoply of wonderful splendor built around piano and voice. Perfection.

-L. Keane

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