Album Of The Week: O. ‘WeirdOs’

Album Of The Week: O. ‘WeirdOs’

The duo also has a familiar backstory: After hitting it off after being hired for the same gig in 2019, they bubbled up during COVID and spent months honing their approach, playing along with their favorite records and giving their first performance via livestream. By the time they were able to play concerts in public, they’d developed an intoxicating alchemy. Witnessing the band in person during SXSW this year, I was impressed by how much noise Henwood and Keary were able to conjure and how many different ways Henwood could mutate the sound of his sax.

WeirdOs documents both the power and the versatility. “TV Dinners” morphs from twisted cartoon funk to a breathtaking buildup that reminds me of big beat techno, ultimately breaking its tension with torrential drum fills and gargantuan extended chords like Hella attempting Explosions In The Sky. “Micro” infuses drum ‘n’ bass breakbeats with nerdy rock energy in a way that reminds me of the deeper corners of Incubus’ S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (complimentary). “Sugarfish” builds atmosphere like a spy movie theme before dropping in ghettotech drum programming, ambient synths, and, ultimately, another monster sax riff filtered through layers of distortion.

Unfolding multiple transformations within each song, O. keep things engaging throughout the 10-song tracklist, never letting their approach settle into shtick. It’s an achievement in ways both technical (the drum fills on “Whammy,” wow) and technological (over the course on “Cosmo,” the sax goes from sounding like a warped keyboard to a filthy blown-out bass). I don’t know if the approach will continue to feel novel for more than an album or two, but WeirdOs captures the kind of chemistry and inventiveness that could keep a band vital indefinitely. Not to harp on the band name again, but the current punctuation suggests an indifference that doesn’t square with my experience; on WeirdOs, it’s exclamation points all the way down.

WeirdOs is out 6/21 via Speedy Wunderground.