Dude. When I first saw the cover of this release, I totally thought that it was going to be an album that was chock full of houseparty jam rock. I was so ready to book out of there. I mean, like the cover shot shows a group of about 15 people crammed into a little shower space, with many of them arms extended giving the universal "rock out" sign. It totally looks like a picture that you'd hang on your bulletin board to remind you of that totally crazy party that went down that one time when you went in your bathroom to pee the next morning and found someone sleeping in your bathtub.
Even the first few moments of "Death Through Habitual Living" didn't change my mind, as they're nothing but a strummed out guitar that slightly changes tune. Eventually, though, my fears were given pass, as some bits of radio static and fuzz make their way into the mix and a rather nice guitar/keyboard melody comes in along with the strains of a cornet. Eventually, the guitar buckles down a little bit more as the keyboard repeats the melody. About halfway through the 9 minute length, it slows down and locks into a groove while some unobtrusive vocals come in before the track has a busting loose moment where keyboards and guitars swirl upward.
Having said all the above, Olo isn't exactly an easy group to nail down. They're a bit post rock, a bit prog rock, and even a bit of jam band. They'd sound right at home on Thrill Jockey, with their melodies that lock into slick grooves while old-school keyboards add another nice shimmering layer to things. "Il Popolo" finds the keyboards taking front and center, with sort of a squelchy, yet darn catchy hook that the guitar in turn follows, all before the song changes direction and the guitars fray off into Morricone-esque territory as the keyboard then takes a more supporting role.
The group manages to stretch 4 tracks to over 30 minutes without delving too much into wanky territory, so they're not too proggy or jam band-ish (in a bad way anyway), and they have a funky enough rhythm section that they won't nod you off to sleep. Even on the 12-minute closer of "Press Jump Button Makes Jumpman Jump," they provide enough thunderous moments that it doesn't bore at all. Instrumentally, it's actually one of the stronger and more interesting tracks on the disc, completely blowing away the quieter moments where vocals make appearences, which is really one of the only problems I had with the disc. When they let the instruments do the talking, it's fun stuff. Dare I say great houseparty music? Only if you don't mind sleeping in the tub.