Earlier this month, The Octopus Project, electropop indie veterans from Austin, released its fifth proper album, Fever Forms, furthering its sensationalist journey through psychedelic electronica in familiar, yet mature, directions.
In a sense, the album is a return to a more organic or primordial sound for the band compared to its expansive and grandiose 2010 release, Hexadecagon. This isn’t the kind of return that negates a worthy release, as the group feels more comfortable with its ambitious brand of indie pop. Fever Forms is as immediately accessible and fun as it is complex and intriguing.
Yet, we should expect this kind of maturity in musicality, this prowess for pop, from a group like The Octopus Project. Its South by Southwest performances in 2010 were particularity noteworthy for their ambition and originality. The group has toured with some of the big names in the alternative world, and even filled in as accompaniment for the legendary Devo.
Apart from tracks “Unspool,” “Perhap,” and “Choi Sighs,” Fever Forms drives through with a frenetic and invigorating pace. Most of this is accomplished through explorations of aural expanses of electronica and pop that the band has been trekking through for years.
Some of the most brilliant sections of the album lie deep within these instrumental tracks, where, to put it simply, the music speaks for itself.
On “Pyramid Kosmos” (an apt name for such a sprawling track), the listener is dropped into what can only be described as the soundtrack to some futuristic, all-immersive arcade game.
A similar vastness is felt on “Deep Spice,” a beautiful piece of alternative indie rock, where digital and analog sounds dance beautifully upward toward a single apex of sunlight and energy. The track is a little dramatic, sure, but it instantly recalls the Balearic inflections of current indie dance darlings Delorean and even El Guincho.
The twee sensibilities of the group’s past are most apparent in the music videos for the singles “Whitby” and “Sharpteeth” than in the actual music on Fever Forms. Colorful construction paper shapes and feather-masked accomplices engage viewers with an amazingly accurate visual pairing to the atmospheres that the songs produce.
Both tracks are stellar, showing a juxtaposition of sound that The Octopus Project can master equally. On “Whitby,” electropop sensibilities reign supreme with hypnotic snyth leads and member Yvonne Lambert’s dreamy vocals that fit perfectly in the current trends of the electro indie cosmos. The track would click right into place on a playlist alongside upstarts like Purity Ring and CHVRCHES. In contrast, “Sharpteeth” is noise pop with a MIDI tinge, and arguably the best track on the album. A catchy chorus and expansive breakdown, all traveling on an undercurrent of driving synth, result in what sounds like the end of a perfect summer day, as twilight comes to a close and the top of the convertible is lowered while traveling down the highway.
Fever Forms’ genius comes forth in its ability to conjure an elemental sense of good feeling. One finds equal pleasure digging through the album’s dense instrumentation to uncover the sophistication of composition as one does just putting it on in the background to create a great atmosphere, and therein lies the impressiveness of The Octopus Project.
The Octopus Project – Fever Forms tracklist:
- “The Falls”
- “Pyramid Kosmos”
- “Death Graduates”
- “The Mythical E.L.C.”
- “The Man With The Golden Hand”
- “Choi Sighs”
- “Deep Spice”