Other Lives – Rituals

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

Over the years, Oklahoma’s Other Lives have built a reputation for themselves as the creators of cinematically sweeping rock music; their first two full-length albums were delightful examples of this unique style, with the more recent of those two, Tamer Animals, showing the growth of the band and their ability to evolve their sound. Rituals, their third full-length attempts to pursue this growth in a different direction via the incorporation of more electronic elements into the mix.

So how does a band that knocked their last album of grand and dramatic music out of the park introduce their audiences to a new spin on their sound? Well, in true Other Lives fashion, “Fair Weather,” the opening track, begins this adjustment subtly. This slow moving song doesn’t seem to be so different from what we’ve heard before from the band, but soon you pick up on more of the use of what sounds like synth or artificial drum beats, evoking a sort of cool groove that sets the tone for the rest of the album. The instrumentation on here is less folk influenced rock and more carefully crafted electro-inspired simmering rock.

This third album shows the band shifting to a subtler sound overall; a bit of the drama that the last album possessed is replaced with sleek smoothness, which works in some places, but falls slightly short of my high expectations in others. Take second track “Pattern” as a prime example of where this works well—the whole song is lined with fierce violin part that never stops, whose immovable presence creates a bridge between the other parts of the song. Similarly, this violin part is mirrored by tinkling piano that shows the level of nuance that this band is so good at. The vocals here are almost entirely falsetto, making for a swirling mix of high and low elements. Another delightful track that shows the smooth approach from the band is “Easy Way Out,” which uses Jesse Tabish’s smokily sinister vocals to assures us that “we can find an easy way out–” and man do I believe him. While neither of these songs really go far away from where they begin, they both use suspense to hold you in their grasp.

Rituals provides us with some more great tracks to add to our listening catalogue from Other Lives, but on the whole it doesn’t make the same leaps and bounds that their sophomore effort did. The sound is still engaging, and the addition of electronic elements works well with the orchestral and grand sound that this band has made their own, but I find myself feeling like I’m missing a little something. Regardless, if you haven’t already fallen in love with Other Lives, there’s really no excuse anymore: pick up Rituals and let the slow crawling sound take you over to the darkness that this band does so well.

 

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