Owensie - Aliens
If you keep even one eye on the Irish music blogosphere, you’ll have seen and heard a lot of people championing Aliens, the debut album from Puget Sound and Terrordactyl’s Michael Owens. It’s been proclaimed by some as the best singer-songwriter album since Damien Rice’s O a decade ago. When I first listened to it, I also had lofty thoughts of the record. But first impressions aren’t always the most important. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that. Thus, after listening to it on repeat for a week last month, I grew disillusioned. So I put it aside to return to it to review. Has it won me over once again?
Yes, and no. It’s still a very musically impressive album from a very talent acoustic guitarist (his previous work is about as far from this as you can get, so it served him well technically), but for all its gorgeous tones and immaculate finger-picked notes, it’s a bit dull and monotonous.
Many have compared Owensie to Jose Gonzalez (him of the ‘Heartbeats’ cover in the Sony TV ad), and it’s a worthy parallel. They’re both extremely talented musicians who make great individual songs, but have quite boring long players. There are some fantastic tracks here, and if each one is taken out of context and just played by itself, you’ll undoubtedly be impressed. But taken as a 38 minute album, it’s all a bit samey.
However, with all the praise Aliens is receiving from all corners, it’s sure to have many people defending its quality as one of the best Irish albums of the year. But for me, this is an album that was initially charming, but lost its warmth after further investigation, and will probably go unlistened to for months at a time before I decide to give it another chance, and warm to it for a day or two, only to return to the shelf for another lengthy cooling period.