Music review: ODESZA’s “A Moment Apart”


ODESZA’s A Moment Apart.

ODESZA, “A Moment Apart”

Five years ago, Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills were a pair of students at Western Washington University piecing together electronic songs between classes. Today, the two spend their time headlining at festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and the Governors Ball as world-renowned electronic outfit ODESZA.

The band made waves in the indie chillstep scene with the self-released 2012 debut record Summer’s Gone, but most would be introduced to the group through their second effort In Return, released on influential electronic label Ninja Tune’s Counter imprint. The biggest hits from that album, the Madelyn Grant-backed “Sun Models” and Zyra collaboration “Say My Name,” have a combined 167 million plays on Spotify alone.

Since then, Knight and Mills have established their own label, Foreign Family Collective, and released an expanded version of In Return before introducing its follow-up to the world.

With A Moment Apart, the duo holds fast to the territory of chill electronic vibes that made their name, but uses its established sound palette as a foundation for new collaborations and ideas that bring a greater emotional range to the forefront.

Lead single “Line of Sight,” made with Australian electronic group Mansionair and English singer WYNNE, has a sound that established fans will find familiar, as do album cuts like “Higher Ground” with Californian singer Naomi Wild and instrumental cut “Meridian.”

However, some of the album’s most interesting moments come from when ODESZA drifts from the sound that made them famous. “Divide” (made with vocalist Kelsey Bulkin, formerly of indietronica outfit Made in Heights) and instrumental track “La Ciudad” combine Mills and Knight’s melodic sensibilities with pulse-pounding beats. “Just A Memory” sees the band pull its own sound back in order to highlight the lilt of the album’s most well-known featured artist, indie rock darling Regina Spektor, as she sings about a relationship gone sour (“I don’t want us just to be a memory / Baby, come back and fight with me”).

That song, along with the somber yet upbeat “Falls” (made with songwriter Sasha Sloan), act as part an effort on Harrison and Mills’ part to bring a new sense of reflection to the band’s output. It’s an exercise that works to A Moment Apart’s benefit, creating a strong third effort worth a listen for any fan of modern electronic music.

Highlight tracks: “Line of Sight (ft. WYNNE and Mansionair),” “Divide (ft. Kelsey Bulkin),” “La Ciudad,” and “Falls (ft. Sasha Sloan).”

A Moment Apart is out now on physical and digital formats through Counter Records and Foreign Family Collective.