Two years in the making, Old Wave's self-titled debut is a deceptively intricate record.
It may be pop through and through, but each song was revised and reimagined during those years, from inception in the mind of songwriter Adam Brock, to initial arrangement and demos, to contributions from bandmates Amanda Farmer (vox and keys), Abbey Hickman (vox and keys) and Barra Brown (drums).
Brock's process is a "layered approach to music making," he says, but "the musical qualities of my bandmates helped create a sonic identity that holds the album together." Having self-recorded and released two solo EPs, Brock engineered the group effort and credits the others with "directly influencing the lyrical component of these songs as well," simply because they all spent so much time together.
There are countless moments that remind of The Beatles and the four-piece even take a page from the songbook of A Hard Day's Night, overlapping the lyrics of Lennon's "If I Fell" with those of the lullaby-esque "The Way I Feel Inside"—a marriage that gently lays you down to sleep mid-record.
In fact, the feeling imparted by this youthful, carefree era of The Beatles is akin to the one Old Wave creates—only modernized. Whether toying with drum machines and samplers, or the harmonious interplay of male and female vocals, or the gracefully supplied talents of other local players on cello, violin and trombone, on the surface, it all feels so simply straightforward—like blowing bubbles on a summer's day. But closer inspection reveals translucent patterns of rainbow in a perfectly fleeting package, always finishing with a delicately satisfying but silent explosion.
With shades of Sondre Lerche heard on the opening track, "Riddles" embodies this sensation and process—from Hickman's spontaneous addition of an operatic double to the guitar solo (recorded in her room the night before the record was sent off to be mixed), to Brown's ride cymbal that enters at the end and adds a new energy to the song. "There are probably seven different recording locations used in the song and it's a fun memory trip to take," Brock says.
From undeniably effervescent highs and playfully dramatic ballads, this is pop music—with a dash of invisible complexity.