Review: Oryx and Crake – Oryx and Crake

“Orchestral pop.” That’s the term most frequently used to describe Oryx and Crake’s music. It works well enough, but it’s also a bit misleading. “Orchestral” sounds big, while the band is often happy to stay small, or at least low key. There are plenty of things going on within each individual song, but they never sound too busy. Oryx and Crake might be a 9 piece band, but they retain the intimacy of folk music. There’s no Arcade Fire bombast or Broken Social Scene immensity to these songs, there’s just a wide variety of instruments carefully arranged into a seamless whole. Folk is the bedrock here, but the programmed beats and electronic effects never feel out of place among the banjo, violin, and cello. This is, in my opinion, the greatest accomplishment of their self-titled debut album. They’ve taken an ambitious approach to these compositions, but they’re so well executed that the songs come across as effortless.

It works as an actual album, too, which is always appreciated. The more somber songs near the album’s beginning build to the more ebullient tracks (“Unbound,” “Pretty How Towns”), creating a sense that the album is gaining momentum. They save what might be their most dramatic song (“Deep Sea Diver”) for the near the end, placing it second to last, right before the album closes with “Lullaby,” which is exactly what it sounds like – a nice coda that eases the listener out of the album. As good as all the songs sound individually, it would almost be doing them a disservice to hear them out of context.

This is a confident, accomplished debut from a very good band, and it will hopefully gain them some attention outside of Atlanta. The play an album release show at The Earl on August 28th.

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  1. August 20th, 2010

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