Watch Kessler’s Video Review Here:
I was aware, from the beginning, that by starting a blog that accepts submissions from anybody, I would receive a lot of subpar material. My goal was never to lavish people in undeserved praise but to provide an outlet in which they could receive legitimate feedback and a hand in growing as a musician. I was not aware that I would be cycling through the same four or so critiques, finding new ways to tell people “experimentation only works when you understand and can subvert the conventions of the genre you are experimenting with,” and all in all it felt like a chore.
Color me surprised when I was submitted an album that lacked any of the dreaded keywords “experimental”, “drone”, “noise”, “post-“, and instead was greeted with a fairly poppy and upbeat psych-rock EP from Ostrich Bouquet, and color me even more surprised when this EP – On Time, As Usual – is not only good, but just shy of great.
The intro track is an iffy one, and easily put me off. It began to sound like so many of the albums I’d heard before it, the ambience overlayed with a poorly mixed sample and I began to regret having listened to the album. It was nice, but not very interesting, and quickly overstayed its welcome.
Track two, however, begins strong right from the gate, the band experiments with psych pop and alternating time signatures in a way that never feels forced or disingenuous, it gives off the vibe of a jam session – a group of talented musicians who, by one of those miracles of nature, made not only a cohesive track, but an enjoyable one.
And the same thing can be said about most of the album, it sits comfortable at “enjoyable” which is something I didn’t know I craved until starting this blog, and with the exception of a few interludes that are thankfully under two minutes, the album never loses its stride. Sometimes it fumbles, but it never loses its balance completely.
Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said about the album’s vocals, which are hidden below instrumentation that itself is very thin, there’s not much for them to be buried under. The mixing gives off the sense of insecurity, that the lead vocalist didn’t feel comfortable having his voice be so prominent. I’d disagree with that notion though; track 5, with its hint of autotune, showcases the singles vocal range and control nicely, its a pleasant complement to a serene and ethereal instrumentation.
Track 6 is another interlude track, elongating the outro of track 5 in an unnecessary minute and a half long bridge into the album’s closer.
The closer is by far the most conflicting song on the album, on hand its excellently crafted, dropping in an out of ideas without ever sacrificing each one’s resolve and satisfaction, a clean tone guitar solo pans left to right and back, to create a smooth and textured atmosphere. And then this is all ruined when the vocals start. Filtered through a vocoder, the vocals sit painfully atop the rest of the mix, highlighting not an issue with vocalization, but an issue with ideation, somewhere along the lines the band thought that THIS sounded better than the singers actual vocals, which is a discredit both to him and to the song. And lastly, after returning to instrumental section of the song, which lasts for some minutes, endlessly repeating the same riffs ad infinitum, the album ends on a lone bass, playing the same riff over and over, until a loud swell overtakes everything. And with that, the album is over.
I appreciate Ostrich Bouquet for what they’ve accomplished, on what I can only imagine is a shoe-string budget, they have crafted a well-executed and enjoyable sound, and if somewhere down the line they also realize this, they could very well release one of the best albums I’ve heard in a while.