Mason Proper's second full-length, Olly Oxen Free is extremely catchy with tunes that immediately sink into your brain and stick with you for days on end. Over the past few weeks I've caught myself humming along to one of the many solid songs on this album at unexpected moments. Their sound isn't generic at all; its extremely minimalist to the point of being more like stripped down drum and bass beats than a straight forward five piece indie rock band. This perfect meshing between the genres results in an album filled with quirky energetic geek rock with a mysterious emotional edge that makes for an intriguing listen.
The first song "Fog" is deeply emotive, driven by a repetitive drumbeat accompanied by subtle guitar and bass creating an eerie spaciousness that - when filled in by the piano and dissonant noises for the build-up to the chorus - create a feeling of jarring trepidation. The lyrics are delivered with warning that perfectly matches the feel of the song. It is an emotional slam-dunk that leads way for much lighter catchy songs. "Point A to Point B" is another stripped down gem driven by a heavy drumbeat backed by a mix of understated bass, lead guitar, synth sounds and hoos and hums that perfectly accompany the lead singer's very personal delivery of the lyrics. "Lock and Key" reveals a funkier Mason Proper with the lead guitar stepping up to play some solid angular dance riffs that make you want to "shake shake shake it." "Downpour" is packed with crazy trip-hop drum loops and spacey trumpets making for one of the stranger songs on the album, but still a great one.
Olly Oxen Free is a solid listen from start to finish, each song has it's own sound that is just as exciting as the last. Their unique fusion of geeky indie rock, drum and bass and hook-laced lyrics make for an irresistible forbidden fruit that everyone must try. Trust me, you will get these songs stuck in your head, but you won't mind it at all!