Listening to “The Case of the Great Irish Elk,” the first track off the Bloomington, Indiana, ambient rock band Odawas’ second Jagjaguwar-released LP, The Blue Depths, wasn’t easy. After their promising official debut, The Aether Eater, it sounded now as though the band completely jettisoned the psych-folk of their previous release, 2007’s Raven and the White Night—an album with gorgeous acoustic and string-backed songs like “When God Was a Wicked Kid.”
“The Case of the Great Irish Elk,” above, sounds more like some bizarre mix of bad 80s synth-pop and Yanni-esque New Wave. Other parts of the album drift in this direction as well, but thankfully things are mostly on the right track by song two on. True, there is more emphasis on organ and synthesizers than in Odawas previous work, but for most of the album they manage to work a fine mix of Soft Bulletin/Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots-era Flaming Lips and early My Morning Jacket. “Swan Song for the Humpback Angler” and “Our Gentle Life Together” (with Marc Bonadies pleasant upright bass droning back and forth during the verses) are the standout tracks here.
Hopefully Isaac Edwards’ (the non-vocal half and song arranger of the band) production will move more towards Brian Eno and away from the Rupert Hine-influence of songs like “The Sound of Lies” and “Secrets of the Fall.”