[sic] Magazine

Osees – Intercepted Message

You used to know what kind of Osees album you were gonna get. And then you didn’t. And then you did again, except it wasn’t the same as what it used to be. And then they did an anarcho-hardcore album. And now, according to John Dwyer, Osees return to type, only with a proper verse-chorus “pop” bent. But what is type anymore? Intercepted Message isn’t carbon copy of Thee Oh Sees circa 2008/09 when they started to break out of the garage underground; it isn’t one of the folkier Brigid Dawson inspired pieces; and it certainly isn’t one of the proggy oddities from the most of the last five or six years. Dwyer himself says Intercepted Message is a Thee Oh Sees record; so why then is it an Osees record? Oh, and for the record, Intercepted Message isn’t a pop record either. Popular, perhaps, in parts, to Thee Oh Sees fans, but that’s about as close a concession on both claims as you’re gonna get. Perhaps it all makes sense in another universe on planet Dwyer, whence this old message has been intercepted.

One explanation could be to hear Intercepted Message as a protest. A documented opponent of AI-art and therefore music, a good percentage of material here harks back to simpler, happier times and sounds. Wander the wasteland no more (Dwyer’s own words once more, paraphrased), Thee Oh Sees are back to slay pretence and pretenders alike. That combative flame lit, middle-order blasts from the past like “Goon” and “Unusual & Cruel” duly recall those ragged, sweaty grooves of yore. Pogoing keys, choppy rhythms and sleazy guitar-elbows in the ribs keep things familiar, Dwyer’s damaged yelp a unifying force as usual, tight motorik drumming even more so.

Further from type, noisy punk-funk highlights and no-wave sax contortions add range and quality. Wildcard glam in the sub-3-minute form of “Chaos Heart” brings a bit of fun too. More divisive will be the 7-minute, 80s power-ballad “Always At Night”, Dwyer crooning over smoke machines and under glitterballs, a track that’s maybe suitable for the erection section of David Lynch’s prom and not much else, truth be told. The culmination of Intercepted Message’s esoteric playfulness, these same ideas then go rogue on silly vaporwave closer “Ladwp Hold”. More effective are the title track’s nuanced sirens and the cartoonish stop-start tape screeches in “Sleazoid Psycho”, less so the grating, pre-synth knob-twiddling that frequently threatens to derail the listen elsewhere. In fairness to Dwyer ‘twas ever thus. Return to type: check.

Best track: “Goon”

~Intercepted Message is released August 18th via In The Red.~