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ALBUM REVIEW: Owl & Mouse – ‘Departures’

July 8, 2015 11:00 am

Released July 27, 2015
Fika Recordings
More information available on Owl & Mouse’s website

Review by William Brown


I have to be honest; I partially picked up Owl & Mouse’s Departures to review for not entirely selfless reasons. It wasn’t that I liked them per se, it was that I’d spotted them being recommended by Folk Radio for their Somewhere To Go EP and, having recently made a vow to get back in touch with my folk roots, I figured I should give them a shot after a listen to a snippet of one of their songs. It was only when I got about halfway through drafting this review that I realised that the band had clearly advertised themselves as indiepop, not folk, so my mini-rant on the band’s status as a folk band was completely unjustified!

I know. I’m an idiot!

Still, I will give the band credit: they are actually not a bad band! Indiepop isn’t normally my kind of thing, but I found Departures to be a very pleasant and soothing listen, which, though lacking a bit in memorability, makes it difficult to say anything negative about it. Perhaps the worst I can say is that it’s so soothing that I actually can’t listen to it when I’m tired, because I find myself drifting off to sleep!

The band’s sound is atmospheric, with a focus on being fairly calm. Now, calm can come across as lacking in enthusiasm if it’s not done right, but Owl & Mouse avoid that trap very nicely in that it’s very hard to picture them doing their music any other way and it feels like a perfect match for them. The band use mostly acoustic instruments in their music, which gives them a sound that isn’t QUITE folk sounding (Ruth Notman and Kate Rusby, this is definitely not), but which has enough overlap that fans of more modern folk who don’t mind a bit of pop influence should be able to find this enjoyable, along with indiepop fans.

The band’s performances are also fairly solid. They’re not especially complex and there’s nothing to write home about but, for what the band are aiming for, just being fairly solid isn’t too big a problem. I do have to give credit to the band’s vocalists, Hannah Botting and Tom Wade, as they both do a very good job of singing in very controlled, soft styles which help support the band’s music very nicely.

I must give one fairly big criticism of Departures, though: some of the songs on the album are a bit too samey to my ears. Several songs start off the same (“Rapunzel”, “Canvas Bag”, “Octopi” and, ignoring the piano, “Worst Kiss” seem to have basically the same guitar part to start them off, just with a slight change in key or tempo) and, with the album having the same vibe throughout, it can result in it feeling a little bit one dimensional at times. None of these are major issues, but I’d urge the band to keep them in mind for next time and try to improve upon them.


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