For years Oxygen Thief made one man acoustic noise, it turned out the project was originally a full band but eventually he found himself alone and continued. Over the last couple of years, he has found himself surrounded by a band again and his one-man acoustic noise has become a three-man electric noize.
The sudden nature that ‘End of the Pier pressure’ starts gives ‘Confusion Species’ an almost exhausting sense of purpose. With every single moment, this release is on the move, tracks follow tracks at a furious pace without ever losing natural flow. This is heavy music written with the delicacy of acoustic music, throughout even the heaviest riffs composition is key. The opener sets off a combination of honesty and tongue in cheek humor that flows effortlessly through the lyrics and creates an instant bond between band and listener. How could you dislike the idea of having to find your temper in order to lose it?
As the tracks progress (seamlessly) the riffs get heavier and there are expansive moments of indulgence, once more the songwriting deserves credit as these moments never overrun or remove focus from the songs. ‘Rubbish Life is Modern’ is a fine example, there is a spoken word section that leads into an experimental guitar solo and at no point will listeners forget the hook-laden chorus. This is pushed even further with the musical breakdown that signals the end of ‘I Used to be Elephants’ the drum kit takes a real beating behind the heavy bass and deep guitars and there is still something incredibly accessible leading into the next track.
Alongside the sharp witty lyrics the vocals really stand out, Barry’s voice has a similar charm to Jamie Lenman’s or Million Dead era Frank Turner’s; no matter how loud he goes or close to shouting he gets there is always a welcoming tone. This doesn’t seem like something that can be taught and adds a level of individuality to each and every song. This vocal allows the musicianship to become as technical as the band wants to make it and as breakdowns, solos, and extensive intro’s/outro’s prove this is a band that is technically accomplished.
Lyrically this is a continuation of themes that have flowed through OT’s extensive body of work, the personal touches within wordplay make this release accessible. The political and social commentaries are well considered and avoid pushing opinions onto listeners, the heaviest points are defused with wry smiles and accurate quips. These moments raise a smile before inputting a thing/talking point, this record is very clever on so many levels. The intelligence of this release is delivered in a way that suggests showboating, it’s not even an important factor merely a result of well-considered penmanship.
As a complete album, this may well be Oxygen Thief’s most accomplished to date, the band have settled together and are really playing with consideration of each other’s strengths. Each standout moment is equally shared and this makes for an album full of purpose that develops an effortless charm with every passing song.