More than a decade after Owls’ last release, the band has reunited on Two, an album drowned in stale ’90s vibes and repetitive, headache-inducing riffs. Noel Gallagher’s watchful eyes may be peering out from the band’s latest album cover, but not even a Britpop legend can save Owls’ newest work from quickly slipping into obscurity.
Tim Kinsella mashes monotone vocals with disjointed transitions and abrupt endings, leaving his notoriously puzzling lyrics on the sideline. On “I’m Surprised,” the line “I sing like a crooked seahorse” holds true, and tracks like “The Lion” consist of Kinsella interchanging muttering and yelling amidst a messy song structure.
“Why Oh Why” couples punchy guitars with dazed mentions of ChapStick, horoscopes and waiters with bad breath. The product is a solid three and a half minutes of whiney, teenage garage rock for the middle-aged, followed by the almost indistinguishable “This Must Be How,” where Kinsella seems to be forever straining his vocals to no avail.
Early guitar tapping on “It Collects Itself” suggests a diversion from the album’s flat plane, but Kinsella then directs the track’s fleeting energy to frantic shouting. Failing to do more than briefly interrupt the rest of the song’s dullness, the noise soon transitions into strange, animal-like chanting as the track concludes.
Completely devoid of hooks and choking on its own monotony, the album leaves little desire for a second listen. Two should only be taken in small doses, or better yet, not at all.
— Kelly Cook
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