ODESZA Returns After 5 Years With Highly Anticipated Album Exploring Love and Loss and The Impact That Time Has On Both
After five years, a new and highly anticipated album has finally made it out of the studio of ODESZA and into the hands (ears) of fans who have been on the edge of our seats since earlier this year when the duo first dropped hints of what was to come. For anyone who has come to know and love ODESZA, we know that the effort and love that goes into their bodies of work are worth the wait and The Last Goodbye is further confirmation of that. While several singles were already released, it makes for a different experience to listen to them within the album set among other never-before-heard tracks. Spanning 13 tracks and featuring vocalists from across multiple genres, The Last Goodbye walks listeners through themes of love and loss, all underlined by what kind of impact time has on our perception of both and the instrumental and orchestral breaks that have become intertwined with ODESZA’s production throughout their career.
Taking a similar approach to their last album, A Moment Apart, this album opens with an orchestrally-supported monologue in “This Version of You.” It opens with scattered vocals in the background pulled from a family playing – most likely inspired by a family video. The monologue is delivered by Julianna Barwick, who is known for making deep, reflective compositions rooted in the human voice. She asks us to “imagine this version of you” in an almost meditative approach and the composition builds with angelic vocalizations and swelling strings into a climactic end. The swell leads into “Wide Awake,” which features Charlie Houston atop an energetic and pulsing dancefloor-ready house beat. The vocal work percolates between choppy and harmonious, all backed by the percussives that are signature to ODESZA’s sound. A reflection of euphoria can be found intertwined with the lyrics that unfold how it feels to experience love and its effects.
“Love Letter” was the third single to be released from this album, so it’s fantastic that it also takes the third slot on the track list. With its heavy electronic leanings and powerfully independent vocals and lyrics, this collaboration with The Knocks poses an interesting duality against “Wide Awake.” Where the previous track embraces love, “Love Letter” unabashedly denies it. Another shift comes, though in sound rather than emotion, with “Behind The Sun,” which was also previously released and centers around a vocal sample from Iranian singer Simin Ghanem. With this track, listeners are treated to another return to classic ODESZA sounds – triumphant vocalizations and quickened drums. If the duo’s forthcoming tour will feature a drum line, as their previous tour did, then attendees are undoubtedly in for a treat. Just imagining what this live performance will look like can send shivers down your spine.
“Forgive Me” brings yet another shift in soundscape with its brighter pop leanings and upbeat energy. Izzy Bizu lends her vocal talents as she pours out her heart through angelic vocals that slide into the R&B space. The pleading hook, which is also appropriately the title, makes a difficult to ignore message – “Please forgive me…I wrote this song so you could give me another chance.” It’s hard to say no in the midst of the enchanting vocals and regretful lyrics, and it seems to have worked because a voice memo sample leaves the song on a high note. The theme of regret and forgiveness continues in “North Garden.” With its heavy use of vocalizations and nature samples that tumble behind between heavy percussion, the track carries a lighter atmosphere. With its repeated “I don’t really blame you,” one can wonder about its tie back to “Forgive Me.”
Another previously released track now represents a pivotal moment in discussing love and loss. The flow into “Better Now” featuring MARO illustrates moving on and trying to find yourself again by taking chances and trying to find fulfillment in the things that matter the most to you. It’s about finding independence that comes after what the next track, the title track, focuses on. “The Last Goodbye” was the first track released and it uses stunning vocal work from Bettye LaVette to bring the album to a cinematic and thematic climax. The echoing nature of the track is representative of what the full album means to ODESZA – that those who came before us and those who made us who we are will always be with us, even as time passes. We find peace in acceptance.
“Healing Grid” brings a new listening experience, one that is more minimalist than anything else on the album so far. As the title would suggest, its calmer energy and softer soundscape craft an atmosphere for peace, one that is conducive to healing. The calmness initially trickles through “I Can’t Sleep.” As heavier beats and choppy vocals take over, a feeling of drifting takes over, one that can be associated with a sense of sleeplessness. This insomniac feeling comes across pleasantly, though, given the more buoyant basslines.
As the last few songs have suggested with their downturn in energy, we’ve now reached the end of this journey. “Light of Day” opens with a slow piano solo and as vocals flutter atop the instrumental builds, we can feel the closure coming. In collaboration with Ólafur Arnalds, ODESZA brings us home with this environment that feels like daybreak The instrumental swells into a marching beat, one that is still calm yet conclusive. We’re once again reminded that this is the end of this journey as the final video sample closes out with a parting remarks and a final “see you later, alligator.”
With The Last Goodbye, ODESZA continue to dig into the signature cinematic sound production that has become beloved by so many fans around the world, yet they also break into new soundscapes that push they boundaries of what electronic music encompasses. Much like this album explores time and growth, so does ODESZA in their sonic choices and their ability to reach beyond their comfort zone is what makes them so popular with so many. Each track brings something unique to the tracklist and putting it all together results in something that is nothing short of remarkable. Their tour starts this weekend and they have dates in the United States through October, so be sure to find a stop near you to get the full experience! I promise it will be nothing like you’ve ever seen before.