Release Date: May 4, 2015
Record label: TBD Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Icy, overcast, lush, and melancholic are not words that are often used when one considers the largely agricultural state of Oklahoma, but Stillwater-based indie rockers Other Lives must live in an alternate universe version of South Central America, because their evocative blend of heady Baroque pop and brooding, windswept, electro-alt-rock invokes not the frontier, but the White Cliffs of Dover. Like English mood casters Alt-J and Radiohead (the band served as the opening act on the latter's King of Limbs tour in 2012), Other Lives specialize in widescreen cinematic pop. Their third studio long-player is as seductive as it is tense, offering up layer upon layer of sweeping strings, arpeggiated electronic vistas, and ghostly harmonies, all of which frame lyrics that dance with furtive feet around the concepts of technology-induced dystopia and existential dread.
Other Lives make the kind of music that’s tailor made for sweeping cinematic epics. Four years ago, their second album, the outstandingly lush Tamer Animals, took the concept of chamber pop and gave it the widescreen effect. Since the release of that breakthrough, the band have consequentially spent more time on the road as their popularity increased and it seems to be that feeling of continuous travel that looms large over Ritual.
There’s always been a lushness to Other Lives, and that sound has earned them high-profile fans including Radiohead and Bon Iver. While their embrace of acoustic instrumentation has led many to label them a folk group, they reach beyond that label with their third album, the dynamic and expansive Rituals. Rituals is a feat of production and arrangement, with each melody flourishing against immaculate percussion.
It’s a fair assumption that Other Lives admire Radiohead. That Radiohead are equally fond of Other Lives became apparent in 2012 when the Oklahoma group were invited to tour with Thom Yorke and co across North America during their King of Limbs campaign. Not only do many of its songs include Yorkesque backing vocals – like a ghost haunting a public toilet – as well as Atoms for Peace’s Joey Waronker as co-producer and additional drummer on track Reconfiguration, but the creative love-in continues conceptually: Other Lives’ third album focuses on pattern, repetition, dystopia and an opposition to modern technology and terrors, much alike to the Oxford group’s approach.
Expectations are high for Other Lives' new album, given the company kept by the band after releasing the acclaimed Tamer Animals (2011). The Oklahoma quintet were featured at Coachella and Iceland Airwaves and toured with Radiohead and Bon Iver, coveted slots that positions Other Lives as perhaps the next great indie band. .
I always thought of Other Lives as an interesting band - Ever since their haunting breakout song 'For 12' landed back in 2011, I saw them as a curious little thing - a folksy indie band with just enough to mark them out from the glut of other gentle folksy indie bands that seemed to be on every TV advert from 2011-2013. They had a darker side, a lilting string section and an obvious penchant for Morricone atmospherics. So, when Rituals rolled into my inbox, I was excited and curious to see where they were at nearly four years down the line.