It often seems to me that what many artists that haven’t quite found their footing, no matter their medium, often lack is focus. There seems to be a lot of wasted effort flailing around doing this or that and hoping that at some point the stars will align and everything will just simply fall into place and the critics will applaud and the admirers will be plentiful. I don’t find this to be the case with Wellington, New Zealand’s Opal House; a five-piece dream pop outfit that seem to have bypassed the flailing about or at least chose not to waste their time recording it and trying to pass it off as a record.
After spending most of 2015 racking up accolades in their home country, which included performing on the prime-time comedy show '7 Days', scoring a 12-part video series on top New Zealand news site Stuff and winning awards for Best Vocals and Best Songwriting at the New Zealand National Battle of the Bands, Opal House traveled to the Gold Coast of Australia to record their debut EP Brontide.
On the whole Brontide shares the stage with many radio friendly pop acts of the last ten or so years; think Of Monsters and Men, Mumford & Sons, Band of Horses et al. Take the easy listening opener “Supernova” which drips with top 40 hit perfection as it builds from a slow acoustic ballad into an epic scope, breaking free with a pace like a pack of wild horses. If that’s not enough to convince you of Opal House’ star power, “Suede & Leather Dreams” surely will.
Within ten seconds of its gripping vocal harmonies via Jesse Finn and Samantha Cotton, one cannot help but be entranced. The cold yet inviting pangs of piano help to further encapsulate you into the mood Opal House is creating here. More evidence of Finn and Cotton’s symbiotic vocals come through, perhaps most powerfully on the heavenly “Lydia.” But Opal House leaves the best for last with the world-music influenced “Battle Cry” a song that sounds destined to end up catching them major attention. It is their brightest work.
None of the songs on Brontide exceed the four-minute mark, though they pack a lot into this tiny bit of space so that each song seems like the re-creation of an entire lifetime. Somewhat like the saying of life flashing before your eyes before you die, though perhaps with a lot less morbidity involved. But with each track Opal House packs in as much as it takes many bands more than twice as long to do.
They catch the listener as though in a snare trap right from the beginning but unlike a trap one doesn’t want to leave the songs. But this brevity leaves one wanting and perhaps that’s what the aim of an EP is, to leave the listener wanting to hear more. If this was Opal House had planned all along I’d say it worked flawlessly.
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