Atlanta, Georgia’s Oak House released their latest album, Hot or Mood on April 7th. The album blends tracks that take elements of dream pop and twist them with dissonant and jumpy beats, not afraid to change moods quickly within one song. Opening track “Damp Eyes” starts with peaceful ambiance but soon becomes a noisy thriller drenched in melodious swirls. Oak House never leave a moment without the perfect amount of detail, showcasing the band’s knack for organizing and perfecting their sound. Whether utilizing a bouncy drum beat on “Reticence” and “Cut That Out” or staining the air with dramatic chords on “Spirit,” there’s a lot of different sounds found across the record. Hot or Mood plays out much like a film score, diving through feelings of anxiety and bliss all within the 46 minute runtime.
Frontman Gresham Cash helps unravel each song’s meaning across the beautifully layered record, which can be found below.
The drone motif starts off the album with an unsettling, warbling layer of anxiety that will make its path throughout the album. “Damp Eyes” is a cosmic slow burner. It develops in thick layers, capitulating into a cacophonous onslaught of rock. The end of “Damp Eyes” is cluttered by the more present drone theme that asserts the arrival of “Reticence.” Both songs deal with feelings of failure and inferiority. “Spirit” drops in with a polyrhythmic smattering of a jilty, judgement driven groove. The drums and bass come together mid-song to finally give the song a solid feeling.
“Cut That Out” is the rude awakening following a semi spiritual moment. Part 1 of the Kafka dream, themes of uncertainty, inadequacy, impotency and frustration are cloaked by semi-pleasing melodic meanderings. “Esque” is drug into action by the droning theme — a hopefully familiar feeling of distrust and anxiety return — and part 2 of the Kafka dream shifts and pulls the listener through a pastiche conglomeration of broken menagerie like scenes.
A triumphant swell of organ-like bellows breathes “Seventeen” into action. It pretends to be a love song, complete with references and compliments, but beneath these lines is a perpetually compounding self-centeredness and anxiety proving that each compliment is driven by selfish motives and not by pure love. “Mundane” is what money makes people feel: confused, angry, selfish, inadequate, anxious, provocative, ambitious, and ultimately, mundane.
“Song of Myself” is a song about myself. Just kidding, it’s about someone else. But seriously, it’s fairly transparent. Written prior to reading Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” I later amended a few lines, because it seemed like I couldn’t title it “Song of Myself” without at least alluding to the somewhat famous poem that I previously hadn’t read. ”
Around the Room” is a good ole fashioned love song, complete with metaphor and imagery that covers up what it actually means. “Spring” is the capitulation of “I’m insecure, and here’s why.” It all feels unwell and portends to a volatile ending. The album ends in calamity: just as it was starting to make sense.
Promo Photo by Rebecca Cash