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Album Review: Odesza – In Return

Having made names for themselves in their local electronic music scene, Seattle-based Catacombkid (aka Harrison Mills) and BeachesBeaches (aka Clayton Knight) brought their individual talents together to create ODESZA in 2012. Since then, the partnership has flourished, as demonstrated by the duo’s dynamic sophomore album, In Return.

The record is a consistent stream of pop-infused electronic bliss.  The characteristic glitched-out vocals and atmospheric soundscapes have carried over from the duo’s earlier sound, but In Return also showcases the sonic development ODESZA has undergone. Their songs are never overwhelmingly complex; instead, each track has a subtlety that allows you to discover different nuances with each listen.

Influences from all over the musical spectrum can be found throughout the record. Particularly notable is the clear world-music tinge, including recurring African percussion beats and Asian-inspired woodwind and string sounds. 

Unlike its first album, ODESZA’s second album features collaborations a number of vocalists for In Return to develop fuller, more user-friendly songs. The vocal focus means that the tracks have become less beat-oriented. With performances from Zyra, Py, Shy Girls, and Madelyn Grant, to name a few, this album is successfully attempting to cross over the mainstream bridge.

Cinematic and dark, yet still somehow uplifting, “It’s Only,” featuring Zyra, is one of the standout tracks. The dreamy vocals somehow lend themselves perfectly to the jungle-vibes of the song’s percussion. “Say My Name,” another Zyra collaboration, is a second highlight. More upbeat, this tune is driven by the drums and bass line. It’s hard to listen to without dancing along at least a little bit.

Electronic music looms large in today’s cultural scene, but despite this influx, In Return still manages to present a refreshing listening experience.

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