A sophomore slump refers to an instance in which a second, or sophomore, effort fails to live up to the standards of the first effort. It is commonly used to refer to the apathy of students (second year of high school, college or university), the performance of athletes (second season of play), singers/bands (second album), television shows (second seasons) and films (sequels/prequels).
Many bands, whose first albums strike a particularly impressive tone with both critics and listeners, feed too much into the hype behind their name and, in the production of their second album, let that hype go to their head. In doing so, much of the musicality and innovation in the first album are absent in the second, instead playing on the fact that they know they have a fanbase, so why push it? Some famous examples of this sophomore slump phenomenon include Weezer, The Strokes, The Killers… Odesza shall not find their name among them.
In 2014, Odesza rocketed ahead of Porter Robinson, Knife Party, Bassnectar and more to be called our #1 album of the year with In Return. Though the album was technically their second (their first being Summer’s Gone two years prior), its strength and ability to launch the careers of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight commonly mean it is referred to as their “debut.” As such, their new album out today, A Moment Apart, would be their sophomore attempt.
Of course, “attempt” is already a bit of a misnomer as the album is already being lauded by fans and critics alike as a hit. Having already released 5 singles from the album, including “Line Of Sight” and “Corners Of The Earth,” the album weaves effortlessly through Odesza’s signature sound.
My own main concern when Odesza announced a new album was how they were going to expand on their sound from In Return without copying it too much, nor straying too far from it. They had found a unique niche between indie dance and progressive house, not to mention the beautiful melodies found within, that no one else had been able to touch on or has been able to since. Without equivocation, I can safely say that Odesza have found that powerful medium in their second album and present a stronger, even more unified piece of music than ever before.
One of the album’s strongest assets is its ability to weave vocal and melodic elements – when not using actual vocalists like Leon Bridges, The Chamanas, RY X and even Regina Spektor, the use of their proprietary chanting, tribal-esque vocals adds depth and wonder to their already wondrous melodies.
In providing a fair assessment of the album, it’s important to note that one of the album’s weakest elements is that it is very much like its predecessor, in tone, theme, sound design, pacing and more. But this will undoubtedly be a strength in the eyes of fans of In Return, so in that sense, who really cares as long as you enjoy it?
Check out Odesza’s new album below.