It has been three years since the Choice-nominated Hither Thither brought O Emperor’s unique style of psychedelic folk out of Waterford and straight into the burgeoning collective of impressive Irish acts. With Vitreous, we have on display a rather idiosyncratic affair. Sweetly sung melodies filled with delicate and intricate piano coupled with groggy guitars and thumping drums. Unpredictable is definitely the name of the game.
Clocking in at a mere 29 minutes, O Emperor cover quite a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time. One does get the feeling an expanded running time would allow the album to mature. Heavy hitters like the impressive ‘Holy Fool’ and ‘Contact’ are slotted jarringly in between the incongruous ‘Brainchild’ and ‘Soft in the Head’. The versatility of the band is plain to see but with such a short running time it is difficult to adjust to the changes of pace. In short, it’s bi-polar.
This is not to say this album needs institutionalised, it’s impressive, the very songs that often disrupt its flow are expertly performed and exude real proficiency. ‘Minuet’ and the closing ‘This Is It’ draw more than favourable comparisons with the orchestral distortion of Sigur Ros. Whilst not quite reaching the heights that Hither Thither provided, O Emperor have attempted an intelligent and absorbing album that is in part, successful. The overall message of duality throughout the album is well thought out but feels compromised by a restricted running time that simply results in too much going on in too small a space.