Picture yourself in a quaint rural town, on one of those winter nights where the streets are so quiet that you pretend to hear the sound of each small flake falling down in white blankets as far as the eye can see. It’s a calm so beautiful that it’s erie and chilling. This Rockwellesque scene could easily be the physical embodiment of the new self-titled LP from northern New Jersey’s own Owel.
The five-piece indie darlings don’t cut any corners in trying to convey the heart of this album to their audience. It is extremely dynamic, with songs that are structured like roller coaster rides. The first track, “Snowglobe” is one that can only be described as ambitious in its structure, dynamics, and instrumentation. The soft key strikes that open the track are something right out of a Postal Service hit, but once the rest of the band drops in with an array of soaring vocals and seamlessly blended string measures, the song instantly takes off. Vocalist Jay Sakong seems to lay a map for the entire album in just one verse of this opening track. When all the instruments drop out, save for a single thumping bass pluck, he sings, “If there ever was this moment of clear vision/Then I’d have it back to reenact and live in.”
The dynamic ebb and flow of the album is present from cover to cover. There is a real sense of contrast between several tracks that follow one another, but perhaps the most opposing and lovely of these moments is the surprise between the sixth track, “Float,” and the seventh, “Once The Ocean.” Both songs make a quiet entrance, but in completely different ways. “Float” is something reminiscent of a ballroom dance, with the hot rod brushes lightly tapping the snare in bosonova fashion; the song drops in and picks up speed with a minor key chord structure that brings out the string accompaniments and vocal harmonies in epic light. The next song, “Once The Ocean,” drops in in a completely different manor, with a programmed beat, followed by layered guitar melodies and Sakong’s high-registered falsetto. The seventh track creates a gripping dichotomy between it’s previous counterpart, which is a theme that is very alive throughout the whole album.
With a brand of highs and lows that grab listeners and bring them to a place outside of their own comfort zone, only to drop them someplace warm and welcoming. Any eleven-song album with that ability certainly deserves some attention, and this most recent release from Owel is no different.