Words About Music
If you’re looking for someone to blame for the emo explosion, look no further than the four men on this album: Tim Kinsella, Mike Kinsella, Victor Villarreal, and Sam Zurick. As teenagers, they formed the Abraham of Midwest Emo, Cap’n Jazz, and all their music was compiled into the Old Testament, “Analphabetapolothology.” They broke up in the mid-90s, leaving some members to form projects like American Football, The Promise Ring, and Joan of Arc. In the early 2000s, the four main members reconvened and recorded a new album under the name Owls. This album was markedly more mature sounding than anything Cap’n Jazz ever did, and much more complex instrumentally as they began experimenting with different time signatures. But then, like all emo bands are wont to do, they broke up almost immediately. But, much like the phoenix, they rose again for some reason and went to work on a new album. “Two” is the result of a 13-year album gap and several months of hard work for some of emo’s biggest power players. And, unlike lots of “reunion albums,” this one isn’t that bad.
The opening track, “Four Works of Art…” is a weird one. It’s neat sonically, but I wasn’t vibing with it and I still can’t really get myself to. It kicks in pretty heavy afterwards though with the song “I’m Surprised…” “Two” shows an ever further development into maturity for the band as they’re no longer really singing about things that would constitute a normal emo album. It’s more straightforward and doesn’t make use of as many time signature shifts as the self-titled album did. Instead the band sings about animals and spirits and stars and other weird stuff. This album is actually pretty strange in comparison to the first one. Owls are taking advantage of all their experience in experimental music over the past decade and incorporating that into one of their fans’ favorite projects of theirs.
But fear not, for those twinkly emo riffs are still present. Guitarist Victor Villarreal is still in fine form, and bassist Sam Zurick and drummer Mike Kinsella are still one of the best rhythm sections in any emo band ever there was. Owls are instrumentally at their best on this album. Tim Kinsella sounds as emotive and strange as he ever has on this album, perhaps a bit grizzled by age at this point. To put things in perspective, he was 21 when Cap’n Jazz broke up.
While I’m usually weary of albums like this, Owls pulled it off. Whether they did it for money or they did it because they really wanted to write great music together, the members of Owls were able to collectively write and create experimental emotional math rock in ways that it seems like only they are capable of. The Kinsellas make music and emotion intertwine in ways many people could only dream of doing, and their many successful endeavors only serve to prove that. While not every song on here is great and the album as a whole isn’t as fun to listen to as their debut, The Kinsellas are worth their weight in gold and they prove that several times over on “Two.”
SCORE – 7.7
FAVORITE TRACKS – I’m Surprised…, The Lion…, Why Oh Why…, This Must Be How…, It Collects Itself…, I’ll Never Be…, Oh No, Don’t…, A Drop of Blood…