reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
After listening to Omhouse’s Eye to Eye for the first time, I went down the internet rabbit hole, looking up the history of prog rock, adding context to a genre I associated with the past. I was drawn to write about Omhouse because of the poetic lyrics, the allusions, and the dizzying way they blend bits of popular genres into their own sound. Or, you know, prog rock, because I was wrong. Omhouse — without ever nodding too nostalgically to the past — bring a new level of progressive to 2018.
Not to box Eye to Eye into a single genre: the Toronto four-piece band are focused on the ways their brand of rock can push the edges of formality. Guitars are wont to wander off on their own and synths take on a multitude of roles, from delicate piano melodies (“I Picture You”) to rising ambiance (“Nursery”). Nothing stays in one place on this roving debut, which runs the risk of feeling untethered, save that Omhouse have made conscious choices for unity in structure and theme.
The tone of Eye to Eye is not an upbeat one, but rather settles in with obsession, heartache, and lost love. “Aurock” reveals emotions that linger on the obsessive side, but creates a sense of denial. With lyrics as sympathetic as “When we speak, it feels like life is really happening to us”, it is left to the listener to decide if this love is as casual as the lyrics declare. The idea of “real love” and obsession appears again on “Is That Enough” with its dark and nuanced tone. In fact, many of the songs on Eye to Eye are linked. “No Words” and “The Best” feel tied by their tendency towards the acoustic and images of keeping a loved one warm buried in feelings of not being enough. “Eye to Eye” and “Hollowed” play with silence and space with falling, meandering notes.
For their debut full-length record, Omhouse use time and space carefully. They create compositions that seem to jump from indie-pop to alt-rock to something more experimental, but tie it together with an emotional base of love, loneliness, and everything in between. Progressive by nature and always artful, Eye to Eye is a strong start to what is sure to be a band that transgresses boundaries.
Top Tracks: “I Have Loved Your Ghost”; “No Words”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)