Oh Land’s fourth album “Earth Sick” see’s the Danish pop songstress continue to work her charm with infectious and quirky pop tracks that continue to not be quite perfectly mainstream and hold a lot more weight than the average pop star. There’s nothing dramatically new here but what she does, she does to the highest standard.
Dreamy and slowly the opener “The Machine” rolls an industrial percussion beat over smooth guitars and breathy synths as the descending chords work the chorus. Oh Land’s vocals dual up for the final double chorus and it transforms into an anthem instead of a mid tempo number. “Favor Friends” goes straight for synth pop with tight bass lines hiding under big piano chord stabs and some interesting string arrangements as Oh Land sings of the most plastic of friendships. The middle eight is where things go nuts with an inserted operatic section over a dub step wub wub. I assure you – it works. I have no idea how – but it works. Single “Head Up High” is superb with its moody keyboards and sultry vocal recording. It reminds me of an electric version of “Renaissance Girls” because of the strong choruses and chord patterns but it stands alone as one of the most radio friendly tracks she’s ever done. A hit in waiting.
“Earth Sick” as the title track is downbeat and warped – literally. The warm yet alien space synth that floods the track sounds like it’s being played on a chewed up cassette. It warps and slinks its way as Oh Land’s soft and tired side comes out as she sounds genuinely like she has had enough. Clever and emotive. “Nothing Is Over” continues the quieter tone with a guitar led track with xylophones, cute keyboards and a harmonica. It’s uplifting chorus and jangles let it switch pace happily before the club track “Doubt My Legs” uses some nifty electronic riffs before the guitar comes in for post rock edge for the chorus. It’s sublime and unusual as the track gets more dramatic upon each chorus and verse. It is also mega catchy – a new favourite. “Half Hero” goes more Euro-Urban if there’s such a thing. It’s skipping beat and vocal layers over its brass and bass that burst into life at certain points in the song make it the brooder of the album. There’s a lot of power behind the track because everything explodes together for a power punch. It also showcases Oh Land’s vocal versatility. On the flipside “Daylight” goes right for the emotional jugular. The drums and piano really push the track back to early 90’s pop before the strings and vocoder effects then make it like a computer is trying to make an emotional connection. The lyrics, which are strong throughout the album, backs this up with “Tonight I think I saw the daylight” and as a chorus of Oh Land slowly twists into a computerised version I was disarmed. Utterly beautiful.
“Hot ‘n’ Bothered” is another stellar pop track with rousing choruses and down and dirty verses. I love there’s just so much change in instrumentation between verses on this album and here’s another good example. “Little Things” is a cute track that is the sunshine track of the album. Happy brass, bouncy bass lines and some funny lyrics that showcases some European humour, it’s a breeze in a sea of seriousness. “Flags” continues the brass edge with what I’d like to refer to as “The Kate Bush Tribute Track”. There’s all kinds of weird woof’s and howls as backing vocals, some really interesting instrument choices and pace changes. It’s like her take of The Big Sky. It’s quite a magical track and very enjoyable. “No Particular Order” is a showbiz drama with big brass and tom drums thumping out the beat and strings then pouring over the top of layered vocals and huge finales. It’s really the huge hurrah for the album because “Trailblazer” is the sombre bluesy number that has some clever production tricks and some unusual time signatures too. It’s a suitable closer after all the big theatrics of the previous hour.
Oh Land continues to work her magic in her own unique way. Production tricks aside, these songs are still catchy, fun, interesting and quirky enough to make her stand out as an original in the pop world. You don’t get many of them so I suggest we continue to treasure her. Excellent effort.