Prepare for that weird little chink of sunlight in your summer.
Ohmme are an experimental duo from Chicago. Their latest record, Parts, is a nine-track mélange of indie-rock experimentation that travels widely. The record’s opening track, “Icon,” feels like a sublimely crafted mission statement. The raw guitar lines are stripped bare, giving it the feel of a demo track refugee off of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, while underneath is an arrangement of bubbly, strange vocal harmonies.
On “Water” the band blows out a fat, distorted guitar that is filled of bombast, and again, the crackling, smart vocal harmony leaves you singing along. On an album built around smart contrasts, this track feels like the most widely separated. I wrote something approximating this down a few times in my notes, but Ohmme (Sia Cunningham and Macie Stewart) really remind me of a time when indie rock was a haven for smart kids, when a song like “Searching For Mister Right” by Young Marble Giants was an acceptable statement about youth and love. This record didn’t make me nostalgic, but it certainly touched on elements of what I used to love about the genre.
“Left Handed” is what passes for straightforward on Parts a mid-tempo, hip-swaying rocker that allows the lead vocals to dabble in seduction rather than trickery. The feedback-heavy guitars are noisy, with production that draws out some neo-psych
elements. One of my few quibbles on Parts is that this hypnotic aspect is truly understated, with “Left Handed” and maybe the title track, holding that down.
What makes an experimental record work for me is how the each little risk works. Strange as it is to say, I don’t have to like what’s working in a song. It just has to work. Often throughout Parts, I feel Ohmme tugs on the same strings for me as The Dirty
Projectors in their choices to formulate idiosyncratic rhythms and layerings of sound. Yet, amid all of the other manic energy, “Sentient Beings” is a hushed little meditation.
Featuring creeping acoustic guitars, swelling string passages, and lilting, summery vocal harmonies, the song is magnetic. However, it also shows the band’s depth. It’s maybe the least weird song on a weird record, despite the hypnotic final lyrical refrain “I got lost in your garden,” but no less appealing.
On their latest, Ohmme hits all my sweet spots, whether it’s in the funky progressions, off-kilter lyrics, or its genuinely weird sense of itself. Already one of my favorite records of the summer, Parts is bound to be counted among my favorite records of 2018.