Review by Suzi H
Release date 31 March 2014
Ah Punk. As a genre it holds a special place in my heart. As a music reviewer I don’t get to listen to nearly enough of it. Today, Indie Recordings sent me a preview copy of Norwegian band Oslo Ess, I got a little bit excited.
Reading their bio I was a bit worried – Oslo Ess have been nominated for a Norwegian Grammy, had five radio hits and hit No 1 on the national sales charts. Permit me a rare moment of hipster-ism, but punk is not known for it’s wide reaching popularity (Green Day don’t count)
Anyway, by the end of track one I was sold enough to listen to the rest of the album. The majority of the tracks aren’t in English – unsurprisingly they’re in Norwegian, so I can’t tell you what the lyrics are like but kicking off they sound pretty awesome. The album begins with Stormen, which is just so Ramones-esque I cried dirty black tears of joy. This isn’t angry punk, this is more rock-like and has a very catchy melody. I can see why they ended up with five radio hits!
Under Radaren continues in much the same vein – melody heavy, lyrically perky and with a clear chorus. It’s a nice track but isn’t particularly stand out. However, the next track Himmel og Helvete kicks things off again with a burst of energy and some fantastic fast drumming with plenty of beat changes. There’s still a hint of something missing though- whilst this is a nice album, three tracks in, it hadn’t grabbed me and made me have an OH MY GOD WIBBLE moment.
It’s very listenable though.
Down at the Docks is the first track with partially English lyrics. It stands out for the language change and also the comparisons to Flogging Molly and hints of Black Star Riders/ Thin Lizzy that trickle through. It’s got a toe tapping rhythm to it, and like the rest of the album is very melodic.
Midnatt kicks off with more of the guitar-driven melody and as I listened to it, I hit on what I was missing from this album – punk has an edge to it. Or at least the Punk I love does. I’ll listen to Blink 182 and Green Day quite happily when I want some music I can play as just background noise and I think Oslo Ess for me at least fall into that category. They’re plenty good – there’s nothing *wrong* with the album but five tracks into an album there should be some blood, guts and a bit of dirt and there isn’t.
Det Brenner Under Beina Mine has a very Ska feel to it and is a nice bouncy song. It’s followed by Leiter Etter Jobb which is well a bit weird and made me feel slightly uncomfortable because it was so HAPPY and 90’s pop rock. Bren Byen Ned and Den Gyldne Tiden sound very similar and have some very 70’s classic rock riffs in them with a hint of KISS and Cheap Trick about them.
Finally, the album rounds out with I Skrivende Stund which is another nice track.
Look, it’s time for some Wyrd Ways Honesty. Don’t listen to this album if you want a punk album. You aren’t going to find it here. There’s a couple of tracks I’d call punk and the rest is a perfectly listenable rock album. It’s not a bad album, I’d be happy to see the band live and I can see why they’ve done so well in Norway. However, this is not a groundbreaking album, it’s background music.