The new Spiral Gaze EP from Off Road Minivan may be short, clocking in at four tracks, but from the opening song, it establishes itself firmly with a punch of emotion. The instrumentation provides a dynamic background for the EP as a whole to rest on; it’s something that you feel emotionally to the point that it begins to cross over into being more physical music. It’s the kind of music that would be great live and that can stir emotion, no matter where you’re listening to it.
Vocalist Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary’s work on the release is striking; his vocals could almost be described as soulful and help turn the EP into something special. The lyrics that he offers to the listener are pared down snapshots of human emotion that are both poetic and to the point. He and the rest of the band members feel like they’ve packed a lot into a short amount of space.
On the first track O’Leary sings “Tragedy took my compassion.” Those four words in the context of the song capture a feeling of defeat that isn’t without a pre-existing struggle. It’s not just a white flag; it’s the feeling of an entire experience encapsulated in the song, and it represents the theme of the whole record, something that even the album art ties into. The cover of the EP depicts a minivan on its side alongside a road in a wooded area; the EP feels like it represents something like coming to terms with the times in life when our respective life “minivans” veer off the side of the road and turn on their side.
The EP, packed full of soulful, emotional rock is thoroughly pleasant to listen to and by the end of it you’re both happy with what you’ve heard and left interested in more. The band carved out a space for themselves on the EP that goes from the heavy to the soft sides of the emotional rock spectrum, offering yet another light shining on the human experience that should help you notice features you never did before. It’s worth noting that even though the music contrasts strikingly with the output of O’Leary’s main band, the metalcore group Fit For A King, the feeling coming away from the Spiral Gaze EP isn’t that significant expressive power has been lost going from FFAK to Off Road Minivan.