Owensie’s been hanging around the Dublin music scene in his various guises for so long that he’s practically part of the furniture. In all that time, though, Aliens is the first time we’ve seen him out on his own, and in it the guitarist abandons his rock roots and explores an intelligent brand of toned-down, soulful acoustic music.
There’s a beautifully tight flow to Aliens. It’s an organic effect that offers up a feel not unlike being whisked through a forest in photographic slow mo. It’s perfectly suited to the dingier moments of many a television soundtrack, with the slow-paced intensity both hugely atmospheric and rammed with short extractable ditties. ‘Cat And Mouse’, for example, is darkly evocative, throbbing with emotion as Owensie’s high-pitched vocals layer against a cyclical guitar backdrop. In fact, Owensie’s guitar efforts are nothing if not simplistic, but it’s the clever, slow-paced reps and carefully layered undertones that leap to the fore, particularly in efforts like the largely instrumental ‘Ronda’.
If there’s one criticism to offer towards Aliens, its that – opening track aside – it’s not an album that offers a whole heap of variety, but with memorable minor key vocals and creative overlays throughout, that’s hardly a fatal flaw. Title track ‘Aliens’ comes across as the only likely single, simply by virtue of being so bizarrely, otherworldly and captivating, with the rest of the album very much focused on overall feel. At times the build up of emotion contained within climbs to the point that it brings a quiet tear, before clambering back down to that same gently probing acoustic loop that tenderly strolls through the less intricate moments.
The full effect is of a slow, dark and slightly morose effort: we don’t know Owensie, but if we were to judge his character on his music, we’d say he’s thoughtful and introverted, capable of turning a sharp mind to the finer points of subject matter others might simply dismiss. There’s barely the slightest glimmer of what Owensie’s work in previous bands might have suggested, but with the odd latino twist (see ‘Cruel Times’), simple yet effective guitar work and a sparse, atmospheric feel, the change is more than welcome.
The album launch for Aliens takes place in the Black Loft at La Catedral Studios, Dublin 2 on the 21st of January.