Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
The Orwells – The Orwells – 12 tracks / 43 minutes
Nearly a year after disbanding in the wake of sexual assault accusations involving multiple members, The Orwells have self-released what is their last record. The tough part of the story is that it is terrific music.
This album may never have been heard, given that The Orwells are no longer a band – the result of serious and disgusting accusations of rape, sexual assault, and other heinous misdeeds by the band’s vocalist, bassist, and drummer. It would be irresponsible to not mention that although they did disband last summer in the wake of the scandal, I am not aware of any convictions from these accusations.
In a short Reddit post, vocalist and songwriter Mario Cuomo stated “hey everybody, I could not wait any longer for this record to be heard. Sorry it has taken so long but it would have taken even longer if I didn’t make the decision to self-release this album. Self-recorded, self-titled, self-released. The Orwells.”
Now, for the difficult part – this is truly great music.
This band was one that I immediately took a strong liking to after hearing their excellent third record, 2017’s Terrible Human Beings. Yes, that album title has a bit of a different ring to it now, and many people can’t or don’t want to separate the music from the person(s) and will never give this album a spin. I get that, as I’ve piled on to folks like Michael Jackson and R. Kelly plenty, but if I am being honest with myself, it was easier because I never cared much for their music to begin with. Perhaps I will have a little more empathy for the hard-core fans of the King of Pop going forward, because I am definitely going to keep rocking out to this band’s blend of punk intensity and pop hooks.
Now, for the review of the album…
Their eponymous fourth (and last) album starts off with “All Cleaned Up”, which is a bit of a curve ball for these rockers. Over a catchy yet morose synth riff Mario Cuomo sings “start it in a different key, take a melancholy melody…”, and indeed, this is them doing their best The National impression (and knocking it out of the park, as this is one of my favorite songs of the year thus far). “The Boxer” features a certain angsty intensity and some Interpol-esque riff/drum goodness and transitions nicely into the glorious lyrics and catchy hook of “Sweetness”.
There may not be a track here that rides the balance between punk and hooky pop that “They Put a Body in the Bayou” (lead track from Terrible…) did, but there are several that plow that same ground to great effect: “Mean Motherfucker”, “Sweetness”, and “Silver Medal”. On this recording they are evolving, and not afraid to try new things, either. See the aforementioned “All Cleaned Up” or the beautiful and psychotic groove that is “Last Days in August” as examples of a band that seemed to be building up to something truly excellent – something that will now be unrealized.
Key Tracks: “All Cleaned Up”, “Last Days of August”, “Mean Motherfucker”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/2eboGtJonAoN4hjmsaHLHf?si=7aXKHkCvS-eGgEqP15vUYg
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