Ohbijou – [Album]

Friday, 07 October 2011

After five years and two albums spent trying to streamline its cinematic sound into a form that both audiences and the band itself were comfortable with (the results were entertaining, but very, very mixed), Ohbijou's sound and style have seemed to fall into grace all at once and perfectly on their third LP, Metal Meets. This time, singer Casey Mecija's fluttering, trembling soprano meets the tastefully adorned string section string section which has always been Ohbijou's secret weapon and the results are a perfect, heart-warming chime instead of a hollow clatter. That achievement is a perfectly gratifying reward for those fans who stuck with the band and believed in the promise that both 2006's Swift Feet For Trembling Times and 2009's Beacons exhibited but came up just short on delivering; here, all the pieces just fall together perfectly, as they were meant to and it is felt right away.

Fans who've been around since the beginning  will understand that Metal Meets is the record they've been waiting for from the moment “Niagara” opens the record; shimmering, glistening and cascading like the waterfall for which it was named. Here, Mecija's voice flows with the sympathetic sounds presented by sister/violinist Jennifer, bassist Heather Kirby, cellist Anissa Hart, drummer James Bunton and multi-instrumentalists Ryan Carley and Andrew Kinoshita rather than trying to capture all the spotlight for herself, and the more even mix lets each instrument poke through to shine and compliment the song as well as emphasize the movements in it. When the piano supports the guitars right at the beginning of the song, for example, the effect echoes Juice Newton's “Angel Of The Morning” and Richard And Linda Thompson's “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight” while the moment the strings fade in offers a sort of epic grandeur and the occasional intrusion of melodica is as bracing as the mist off the falls when it comes. Such praise may seem ironic as one considers the fact that, lyrically, the song seems to be about love lost, but one listen will cause sighs of contentment in the uninitiated, guaranteed.

With the unusual peak of Metal Meets set by “Niagara,” the band is only faced with the imposing task of not faltering from it – which they manage to never do as they artfully blur the lines between comedy and tragedy, love and loss and life and death. Songs like the title track, “Echo Bay,” “Iron And Ore,” “Sligo,” “Scalpel Blade” and “Turquiose Lake” all mix terrifyingly dark and sad lyrical imagery (knives pierce skin in “Metal Meets,” images of heartbreak and isolation dominate “Echo Bay,” images of beauty faded reoccur through “Iron And Ore” and “Sligo” begins with bodies and rosaries hanging from abstract trees) with warm and comforting sonics and produce a beautiful, uplifting vibe from the amalgam somehow; the beautiful pseudo-poppy sheen on Metal Meets is so thick, a cursory listen doesn't reveal the genuine emotional motivation – the truth can only be found if one digs in.

Unlike so many other records, the work that one must put into Metal Meets is requisite for getting the most enjoyment out of it. If a listener chooses to stick to the surface, yes, they'll find a wonderful gem of a record – but the further in a listener goes, the more rewarding it becomes as they'll find themselves presented with a unique, complex and rich listen. Records like this don't get made often anymore – many are simply designed to be instantly gratifying and easy to swallow – but that Ohbijou put as much work into this presentation as they did says that they're ready, all fans need to do is catch up and fall in love with them.



Metal Meets
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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