The Seattle electronic duo’s newest album is their best — and might be the year’s defining EDM statement.
ODESZA have been around for 5 years now; a long time in the EDM sphere, where trends come and go and artists’ careers can begin and end in the span of a few months. In that time, they’ve somehow managed to make music that consistently feels fresh, even as the marketplace has flooded with similar artists, many of who blatantly copied from the playbook that ODESZA helped write.
Their newest album, A Moment Apart, maintains this standard. It’s a chilled-out affair, like their earlier efforts, but with more of an opulent, poppy edge. On it, ODESZA confidently walk the tight rope between EDM and pop. The samples on ‘Higher Ground’, for example, are at times as experimental as something the Forest Swords might release, but the vocals keep the track earthbound. Similarly, album highlight ‘Across the Room’ is full of weird sound effects, but the sample it’s built around is pure pop bliss. ODEZSA might strive to be as weird as some of their colleagues, but their music is too populist, too fundamentally crowd-pleasing, for them to ever really break any new ground.
This isn’t a bad thing. I prefer ODESZA when they’re just trying to make music that bangs. That is what they’re best at, after all. And holy shit, at times this album does bang: the drums on ‘Higher Ground’, the chorus of ‘Divide’, the aforementioned sample on ‘Across the Room’. There’s a kind of manic energy behind these tracks. You can almost feel how much fun ODESZA had making this record.
It’s this enjoyment — the fact that these guys just seem to love making music — that might explain why ODESZA pay so much attention to the smallest details of their tracks. Each synth, each pitched vocal, each drum hit, feels hand-picked and slotted into its right place.
“We’re spending a lot of time trying to build these things that have sound design moments that create immersive atmospheres,” ODESZA explained in a recent interview. “Less about just playing our song and more really trying to create a unique experience.”
More than other other ODESZA album, A Moment Apart feels like an experience. I’m sure it will be the soundtrack to many reckless nights, drunken kisses and hungover mornings in the coming year. It’s the year’s defining populist EDM statement. The only criticism I’ve really seen leveled against it is that all of this poppy flair and meticulous sound design amounts to ODESZA using style to make up for a lack of substance. That may be true to a certain extent, but when their music is this stylish, who cares?