Australian duo Oscar + Martin made small, but consistently positive waves last year, especially across a few prominent Australian music publications and blogs. Their debut album - For You - is a great indication of why. Full of smooth, melodic loops, and flighty autonomous percussion, it's an interesting outing to say the least!
Opening with "My Blood", the album starts off on more stable footing. As one of the more grounded tracks, it's a good indication of what Oscar + Martin can achieve, and really sets the bar for the tracks to come.
However it's "Lion's Blood" that feels like the first real stand-out. Like closer "Do The Right Thing", the vocal melodies fit snugly around the beat, and it's not hard to let the song take over that internal jukebox in your mind for extended periods of time.
The vocals on For You have an impressive range, although at times they almost feel a bit restrained and delicate - which becomes an issue when certain melodies and hooks really need to be emphasised. When it comes to the delivery of lines, the disregard for traditional timing adds a special warmth to the music, but again, at times it can almost be a bit off-putting.
The loops employed border on glitchy, being used to create this dense, full sound. But while the textures and atmosphere they create are welcome, they just feel like they lack focus and direction.
Don't mistake this criticism for flat out negativity either, because Oscar + Martin have ridiculous amounts of potential. It's just that they sound a bit confused. They seem to be straddling the line between cohesive, instantaneous pop, and that unorganised and dishevelled form of pop that more experimental bands like Animal Collective seem to champion. As a result, it feels like sometimes things just don't come out quite right.
For You feels a bit unstructured and mismatched. It pulls the listener into a state of restless captivity, because although you can hear the hooks hidden beneath it all, sometimes they just fail to fall into place. And while that's a bit unnerving, it's hard not to be charmed by some of the more refined cuts on this album. This is an adventurous debut, and if for nothing else, it should be commended because of that.
Oscar + Martin have shown that they're definitely a band to keep an eye on in the near future.
Review Score: 4.8 out of 10