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Posted on July 24th, 2015 (12:00 pm) by Nick Manai

There is nothing all that different between ON AN ON and the countless other indie-pop dance groups touring around the globe today. But the real problem is that while their musical theatrics and shimmering keyboards might sound at times like really excellent approximations of better leaders in the indie-electronic renaissance, like CHVRCHES for example, their brand of dire sincerity and love-never-fails optimism is, if not too much to handle, then at least too obvious to really pull you under.

The first track off of their new LP, And The Wave Has Two Sides, an admittedly powerful title for those who might ponder the limits of expressionism a title might represent, is called “It’s Not Over,” and the song retains all the problems a demand like this entails. The chorus reverberates out: “I’m dying to get you on the dance floor/And tell you that our love is going to go on forever." Even if you are not an English speaker, On An On are pretty skilled in fully realizing that kind of thematic in their music and vocal inflection.

Speaking of Wave, vocalist and guitarist Nate Eiesland said that this time around On An On was hoping to make something more “direct and visceral.” As you may have noticed from the absolutism of their first single, Wave mostly accomplishes that goal. With songs like “Wait For The Kill” and “I Can’t Escape It,” the Minneapolis trio pries back-breaking orchestral crescendos out of '80s romanticism via their retro-synthesizers. At times they beckon with more authority than “It’s Not Over,” as on “I Can’t Escape It,” whose wish to transcend seems to be tumbling a step or two behind the dragging guitars, which themselves feel like the embodiment of that ball at the end of the chain.

ON AN ON do not stay at full throttle throughout the album, and mostly they are better for it. “Behind The Gun” never raises its piano and percussion above a whisper and Eiesland’s vocals are palpably introspective. As he sings “I need you behind the gun,” his stranglehold on “direct and visceral” communication begins to come undone, and in its place is a more evocative sensation, a space On An On are much more suited for. Because at the end, “It’s Not Over” still feels like the key to unlock Wave. It might be the high water mark of their grandiosity, but here you can see all the pieces of the puzzle they will branch out from at other intersections on the record. Unfortunately, its lamentable mantra, “Cause the beat is in our soul/And your wish is my command,” never slips away, and at least on this record, it’s here forever.

Track List:

  1. Behind the Gun
  2. Icon Love
  3. Alright Alright
  4. I Can't Escape It
  5. It's Not Over
  6. Drifting
  7. Wait for the Kill
  8. Stay the Same
  9. You Were So Scared
  10. Secret Drone
  11. Interlude
  12. All At Once
ON AN ON: And The Wave Has Two Sides
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

60 / 100
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