Thursday, August 12, 2021

Oscar Lang’s debut album exudes artistic ambition and overwhelming range

Only now in his early twenties, Oscar Lang has been an active musician on the scene since the age of sixteen. About to release his debut album on Dirty Hit Records (home to other stand-out artists such as Wolf Alice and The 1975), Oscar has channeled such a variety of approaches and musical genres that it is hard to believe that this is actually a debut. 

This undeniable ambition manifests itself throughout 'Chew The Scenery,' resulting in an incredibly strong piece of work that may only be the tip of the iceberg of what he is capable of as an artist. 

Opening with ‘Our Feature Presentation’ with Ty Segall-infused garage rough drums, listeners are encouraged to buckle their seatbelts for what is a smooth but twisty ride. As you make your way down the tracklist, delving further into the musical journey that Lang is slickly guiding you through, it quickly becomes apparent that this is not a predictable album by any means. Lang skillfully and seamlessly makes his way through a variety of genres and influences. As a self-proclaimed admirer of other multi-hyphenate artists such as Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Mac DeMarco, Oscar Lang makes a name for himself in his own right with each stellar track. 


21st Century Hobby’ follows, which had been previously released ahead as a single. Showcasing his ear for instrumentation choices, this track is a phenomenal display of layering simple melodic lines, resulting in an uplifting and almost dreamy choral tone, complemented by Lang’s echoey vocals. Moving along nicely, Lang employs a range of guitar tonalities to match the attitude of the tracks, using crunchy indie riffs in ‘I Could Swear’ and changing entirely to a heavy buzzy sound for ‘Headphones.' ‘Yeah’ presents an opportunity for Lang to get creative with mostly electronic sounds, straying from the typical indie form to play around with melodic noise and some well-judged dissonant moments that keep listeners on their musical toes.


While almost every track could be released as a standalone single, Lang takes well to the album format and includes some playful instrumental and spoken part tracks to frame the album, giving listeners a respite from hearing absolute tune after tune after tune. ‘Write Me a Letter’ stands out as a stripped-back emotional reprieve right in the middle of the album. Soft, soulful vocals accompanied by perfectly simple piano chords make this song a surprising moment of intense vulnerability from an artist that could easily choose to hide this quality behind a wall of incredible soundscapes, catchy drum beats, and distorted guitars.   


Intermission,' which is indeed a scheduled intermission, encourages listeners to return to their comfortable listening positions and prepare for what is to follow. This second act does not disappoint, revealing even more bangers like the happy but poignant ‘Are You Happy?’ which draws listeners in with smooth vocals, organ-like synths, clean reverb-y guitars, and a snappy drum beat. ‘Quarter Past Nine’ comes in as an eerie but intriguing surprise, effectively creating a feel of watching the clock, anxiously longing for something. Lang gracefully guides listeners towards the end of ‘Chew The Scenery,' ending with a heartfelt ‘Thank You.'


Coming from bedroom pop beginnings, Oscar has radically and impressively developed as an artist in a short space of time. Whereas he usually prefers the DIY approach, Oscar’s decision to begin collaborating with producer Rich Turvey for this work has certainly paid off. While it might sound perplexing for listeners to hear such a mix of influence and genre all on one album, the production, polish, and considered songwriting make it work magnificently. Oscar’s depth as a lyricist along with such informative influences shines through at every turn, but the album manages to maintain a lightness and catchiness that leaves you no choice but to listen to it over and over again. 

Oscar's debut album ‘Chew The Scenery’ will be arriving on 16th July from Dirty Hit Records.

Aoife McMahon

Image: Jordan Curtis Hughes

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