Album Appreciation: II by Octopus Ride

Well, no one can accuse Swedish band Octopus Ride of rushing into things… formed at the end of the last century, they brought out their eponymously titled debut album in 2013, and now… hot on the heels of that… comes their follow-up ’II’. This, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing since the last thing you want from a band is for its members to spread themselves thinly and put out low-quality content.

Instead what we find here is a thoughtful and varied album which showcases the band’s leftfield approach to music which, like and octopus ride at a fair, takes sudden and unexpected turns.

Nowhere is this more the case than with the open track ‘If You’re Happy’… yes it really is that one… clap your hands… I have to admit that it’s taken me some time to get used to this because the song for me is redolent of sitting on the floor in soulless play centres with an infant child on my lap trying desperately to entertain them… it’s not a song I particularly equate with joie de vivre and bon homie.

Once I’m passed this however, this album opens up quite marvellously into a series of exciting adventures, all of which bring their own distinct ideas to the party… ‘Money Trouble’ is a right raucous track which quickly puts my personal antipathy aside and quickly wins me over… it’s a quick and speeding instrumental which really pulls you along somehow telling you to gaze at your shoes, while simultaneously preventing you from doing so at the same time… while ’I Saw You (We All Did)… is a proper psych tune which evokes West Coast sunshine with darker and heavier spacey elements… great stuff!

After that we get one of those left turns into ‘A Place You Wouldn’t Know’ with it’s mid-Beatles psychedelia and fractured approach which combine to joyous effect, acting as a pre-cursor to the altogether darker and more fractured ‘One Summer’s Break’… which is unlike any holiday that I would want to take. That aside it underlines the unexpected journey that this album takes us on as we ride the gamut of emotions being fostered here… and, hey, if you don’t want that sort of thing there’s plenty of dross in the charts for you…

…and as if to back this up there is a cracking cover of Spacemen 3’s ‘Things’ll Never Be The Same’… which is played with a huge amount of passion and understanding… it really takes you out there… I could have this on repeat for hours!

After that comes ’I Wait’ which turns the light down again as we move into the nether realms of psych/ shoegaze with a bassline which growls along the ground like a crouching panther ready to strike at any moment… but eventually opens out somewhat as the guitar glides into the mix rendering it rather meditative by the end…

…which brings us to the final track ‘The Sun In My Hands’, which stretches out into the horizon as I imagine gazing out to sea and enjoying the last rays of the day… or of the summer. Yes it is one of those tracks which, for me, has a hazy melancholia to it… and given that this is an emotion that really appeals to me it’s a great way to end this (mostly) great album…

‘II’ is available from the band’s bancamp page here.



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