By Cal Meacham
The current popularity of 90’s/00’s emo reunions makes it an easy sale for a reunion of one of the best bands of the the genre. But time doesn’t always equal better and Two shows that as individuals, each guy has moved on to bigger and better things.
With age comes beauty and wisdom but unfortunately that doesn’t always translate into greatness. 13 years in the rearview mirror, Owls Self Titled debut still plays like the great album of tangled finger guitar runs and Tim Kinsella-isms that it did during the height of the experimental indie/emo scene of the early 2000’s. It allowed the playful, close to running of the rails guitar lines of Victor Villarreal to dance with Mike Kinsellas equally spastic drumming and each moment worked. Your only semblance of where a verse would start and stop was the yowl of Tim Kinsella and oh was that yowl addicting. This formula that set the band apart from most of the rest of the scene is glaringly missing on the new record.
Two feels like a tired reunion, trotted out to uninspiring and incohesive results. Victor sounds as if he spent too much time as the second guitarist in Tim’s mainstay Joan of Arc, as his own ideas seem to rarely surface on Two. Simply put, there is a lot more chunking guitar riffs (The Lion, A Drop Of Blood) and a lot less noodling surprise (Life In The Hair Salon). This Must Be How… sounds as if it got lost on the way to a Make Believe album, which isn’t a bad thing but it never shakes its own tail, much due in part to the album mixing.
A leveling of the water has been put into the mixing, less apparant are Mike Kinsellas touchy little drum fills and Victors pop influence mind. More apparent is Sam Zuricks plopping bass lines which sound more Bobby Berg than they do Sam Zurick. This was never a Sam Zurick band, it was a playground for Victor’s out of control guitar lines and Tim’s equally wacky singing. Any chance of those things existing are grayed out by the mixing. Owls need to have these parts stick out, it is what sets them apart and creates a band worth following song for song.
This isn’t a terrible record, but there are so many problems with it from start to finish which can be summed up in the albums final track “A Drop of Blood”. Where has Tim’s singing style gone to? I don’t think that he could sound any more bored than he does on this record. This song sounds like it was written for a high school talent competition….I am sorry guys but you were once an amazing band and none of that is on display here. Some things are better left retired.
Score – 5.5/10