Oliver Earnest seems to be able to capture myriad opposite ideas in his songs and his debut album, The Water Goes The Other Way, is the perfect example of this. It is an album that seems to be more than just a collection of songs, great as they are, but actually a creative conjuring trick that sees him pull sonic rabbits out of musical hats. Here, he creates songs that seem simultaniously polished and slightly raw-edged, frantic yet totally in control, infectiously poppy and full of rock and roll weight.
It is a sound that shows that pop music can have integrity, that rock music can be smart, that indie can have something to say, the songs found here are clever yet wonderfully accessible.
Marble Stars, in particular, combines all of these traits in one cool showcase, moving from a galloping alt-rock groover to understated ambient pop to off-beat indie before returning to its charging ways for a final crescendo and fade out. But an album is more than just about one song. On The Outside is all chamber-pop poise and liquid basslines, The Usual Amount out-Nationals the National and, by contrast, Just To Tempt Me is a graceful, spiralling, acoustic web of emotion and expression.
It has everything, from awesome anthems to ambient soundscapes and from ornate and complex constructs to unadorned pop that looks you in the eye as you fall in love with its sonic charms. Now that is value for money if ever there was.