Album Reviews

Omni – Souvenir

(Sub Pop) UK release date: 16 February 2024

A slight change in formula heralds tremendous success on this, their shiniest, brightest and most accessible album to date

Omni - Souvenir Some artists are never truly appreciated until they’re gone – whether that’s gone for a while or gone for good. In fact, the very notion of some piece of art being underrated is in itself an underrated idea, seeing as we now, collectively as a society, are quick to overrate mediocrity and laugh at perceived failure.

The reason that this is important to discuss here is that Frankie Broyles – one third of Omni – was once a member of one of the great underrated bands (Deerhunter) and was present only for the recording of one album (Monomania) that it’s easy to consider as being their most underrated, if only because it represented a considerable shift in tone, timbre and execution from any of their albums before or since.

When Broyles was part of the band, they wore leather, paid homage to the Ramones, played loud and rough, were raucous on stage and seemingly embodied a completely new entity than the one that preceded it. Whether that was down to the influence of Broyles or just another tangent in the artistic journey of the incredible Bradford Cox is up for discussion, but nobody can really say for sure. Hopefully the former.

And so to Omni – themselves firmly in the underrated category – who here present their fourth studio album, Souvenir. The quick notes: it’s their shiniest, brightest and most accessible album to date – with much more of a focus on songcraft rather than meticulous, sometimes overwhelming precision. It might also be their best.

Post-punk, and its daughter term, post-punk revival, are completely overused in modern music genre parlance, but both terms apply, happily, to Omni’s music. They’ve always seemed to be direct descendants of genre figureheads Wire, Television and other bands that favour the superego over the id in artistic expression.

Opener Exacto (a fitting descriptor for their previously established sound) is looser and freer than pretty much anything else they’ve done up until now. Make no mistake – it’s freer in the sense that Talking Heads’ first album had more room in it than their third, it isn’t something that one might consider too spontaneous sounding.

Singer/bassist Philip Frobos is joined throughout the album by previous tourmate Izzy Glaudini (of Automatic, and no, not that Automatic) but she first appears on album highlight Plastic Pyramid. It’s a highlight because it stacks the beautifully complementary duo vocals on top of Broyles’ glistening shards of guitar on top of Chris Yonker’s almost motorik drum pattern to an almost ecstatic effect.

Third track Common Mistakes is short and sweet – incisive and muscular, like The Strokes in miniature. Intl Waters slows the pace considerably, allowing for Frobos’ bass to take a more prominent role alongside Yonker’s relentless hi-hat and almost progressive rhythmic divergences. Double Neg is beautifully odd, a wonderful throwback to the sound they’ve been peddling since their inception, with its Doc at the Radar Station guitar skronk and an almost completely detached vocal timbre.

PG again flirts with a Strokes-y vibe, before their more considered artistic tendencies take over and they end up delivering something altogether weirder. Granite Kiss is hectic and almost claustrophobic in its approach, but it actually (upon consideration) finds them borrowing from an almost college-rock palette of yearning vocals, jerking guitar figures and chunky rhythms.

Glaudini is again used to fantastic effect on Verdict, which should be at least twice as long as its two-minute running time. The wonderful pairing of F1 and To Be Rude show yet more of their refined songcraft, before closer Compliment threatens to turn them into Interpol. Luckily, before things get too close to pastiche, they pull themselves back from the edge and close the album on a really strong note.

Souvenir, like all of Omni’s work, is just great. It scratches an itch that most fans of the genre have probably found themselves wanting dealt with for a while. In the same week that we’ve seen Idles try to deliver something new against all the expectations of their fans, we find Omni changing the formula only slightly and having incredible success with it. Highly recommended. Underrate them at your peril. 

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Omni – Souvenir
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