Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Pocket Gods: "The Curse of Oak Island" (album review)

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll probably know that I'm not a big fan of concept albums.  All too often the songs are shoehorned or hammered into places they simply don't belong in order to fit the theme.  Alternatively, there are far too many bits and pieces of filler used to weave the concept together.

That brings us to The Curse of Oak Island, the forthcoming album from UK band The Pocket Gods.  The concept record explores the legend of the money pit that allegedly exists on the Nova Scotia island.

Those bits of filler rear their heads in part in the form of spoken word tracks.  Those, like "The New Atlantis" and the funk-backed "The Starry Earth" are incredibly out of place with the style of the other tunes on the record.  Songs fragments like "Cyngus" are dropped in as connectors as well.

Making The Curse of Oak Island even more challenging to the listener is the abundance of musical styles that the band incorporates into the mix.

Brit rock is the most present style, with tracks like "Ten X" and the catchy "Take Me Down To Oak Island" drawing heavily upon Inspiral Carpets.  The fiery "Advanced Calculus Elvis and I" evokes thoughts of vintage Spiritualized.

On top of the spoken word cuts, electonic music also weighs in on "Black Friday 13th", which also includes an infectious, slightly Middle Eastern rhythm.

There's a strong roots music influence on the album as well.  The best instance being the banjo and harmonica-fueled "Sweetheart of Nova Scotia".

Inexplicably the band tries to cram all of those things into the messy hodgepodge of "Cypher".

The production quality doesn't help things.  The shortcomings are most obvious on the muffled vocals of "Bring Me the Head of Francis Bacon" and the sadly muted "40 Feet Below".

That may sound like an incredibly negative review.  However, down below underneath some of the issues dwells some very well-crafted indie rock songs.  It's a shame that the packaging doesn't do them justice.

Best tracks: "Take Me Down To Oak Island", "Sweetheart of Nova Scotia"

Track listing for The Curse of Oak Island:
  • Take Me Down To Oak Island
  • The New Atlantis
  • Bring Me the Head of Francis Bacon
  • Ten X
  • Cyngus
  • Black Friday 13th
  • Cypher
  • Seven Must Die
  • The Starry Earth
  • Search Can't Find
  • Sweetheart of Nova Scotia
  • 40 Feet Below
  • Advanced Calculus Elvis and I
  • Pierces Mercy

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