Record Review: The Osees Intercepted Message

Posted on: August 24, 2023
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By Bryan Carroll // Osees — Intercepted Message (In The Red, 2023).

Thee Oh Sees (at press time known simply as Osees) are, by now, an American institution. Creatively restless, endlessly prolific, and with far more hits than misses in their catalog, you can easily spot the parallels to spiritual cohorts like Can, The Fall, and even Sun Ra. Their latest effort Intercepted Message is their 28th album in 20 years, which makes the fact that it’s a high-water mark in a career full of them even more impressive. Sole constant member John Dwyer steers the band into jubilant synth-punk, vaguely new wave territory, leaning heavily on arpeggiated keyboard runs and whirling effects to create what may be the apotheosis of Osees’ always memorable, lyrically subversive garage punk sound. Surprisingly, the album closes with a lovely Eno-esque (Berlin-esque?) ballad called “Always At Night” which is one of the most tender songs Dwyer’s yet committed to tape. Perhaps a hint at where he may take off to next, or perhaps just an 80s moment indulged in a suitable context. Regardless, at just over 41 minutes, the album isn’t a moment too long, and the replay potential is off the charts. If you’re a newcomer to Osees’ intimidating catalog, this makes for an excellent entry point. And if you’re a fan who’s tired of drinking from the firehose that is the Osees relentless release schedule, reconsider: Intercepted Message is a blast of cool water worth repositioning your face for. (Review by Bryan Carroll of The Clear Spot)