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Electric Hawaii (3x7")


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Performer Notes
  • When New Zealand group the Mint Chicks split, the world of weirdo psych-pop was granted the addition of two excellent new groups. Ruban Nielson formed the Unknown Mortal Orchestra and released a very strong first album in 2011. His brother Kody formed Opossom, whose debut album, Electric Hawaii, is easily a match for UMO's debut. Unsurprisingly, the two brothers' groups share the same oddball pop DNA, but where UMO lean toward a trippier, funkier approach, Opossom play it relatively straight, adding weird sonic touches to their sound but sticking pretty close to a classic '60s-inspired pop format. Nielson crafted the record himself -- with a little bit of vocal assistance from New Zealand superstar Bic Runga and trumpet from his father -- and it feels like something conjured up in a lab, both inventive and a little warped around the edges. The songs have Motown-tight rhythmic underpinnings, guitars that are never predictable, lots of odd keyboard sounds poking in and out, and, most importantly, an impressive amount of stickiness. The warm and inviting sound of the album might hook you first, but the melodies will keep you hooked. Songs like "Fly" and "Blue Meanies" have a sneaky way of getting stuck in your head, "Getaway Tonight" is a nice rocker with a soaring chorus, a few tracks ("Watchful Eye" and "Outer Space") drift along like slowly fading dreams, and the rest is top-notch weird pop made even weirder by Nielson's way of bathing his vocals in all sorts of distorting effects. This disguising of his vocals may lessen some of the emotional impact of the album, but really, when a record sounds this imaginative and the songs are so bubblegum poppy, who really needs the baring of emotions? If the brothers Nielson have any kind of sibling rivalry, you'd have to say their respective first albums leave them tied, and they've both made lovers of off-kilter, sticky-sweet psych-pop very happy. ~ Tim Sendra
Professional Reviews
Q (Magazine) (p.107) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Psychedelic but with an amphetamine rush replacing lysergic inertia, 'Electric Hawaii' recalls the breezy sophistication of '60s French art-house soundtracks fed through a sonic mincer..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.91) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Opossom proffer an engaging, exotic, Oceanic take on beatnik psychedelia -- melody, saturated, updated '60s beat music with a futuristic edge..."
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