O. Children – Apnea
For every recent post-punk band who have gone on to bigger and better things (e.g. Editors and Franz Ferdinand) with the release of their second album, there have been countless others who have made a mess of things (e.g. White Lies, who crashed and burned spectacularly with ‘Ritual’ last year). The cliché of the ‘difficult second album’ didn’t come about for nothing, after all. In the case of O. Children’s ‘Apnea’, well, it doesn’t sound difficult at all. Far from it, in fact. It is the sound of a band tightening up their already muscular sound to produce an album of striking depth and variety.
They clearly want to move forward, but that would be understandable, because here’s where the difficulty in making the second album lay: they were unable to get ahead with it. More precisely, gravelly-voiced frontman Tobi O’Kandi was unable to get ahead with it, because, in the two years following the release of his band’s self-titled debut, he was pretty much no-one. A whole host of legal issues left him stranded in England and faced with deportation to Nigeria, and so he developed sleep apnea (a condition in which there are irregularities in breathing whilst asleep, from which the album takes its name) due to that stressful time.
In hindsight, the fact that the quartet have even managed to complete their new album is an achievement in itself, but the post-punk template that featured on their debut two years ago has been refined and beefed up, and the results are something to behold. This is an album that is quite difficult not to fall in love with. If the minor-key opener ‘Holy Wood’, drenched in atmosphere and practically fizzing with potential, doesn’t reel you in, the eyebrow-raising poppier direction explored on early album highlight ‘The Realest’ definitely will. It only gets better from there, too.
‘I Know (You Love Me)’ is a contemplative break-up song set to a power-pop structure, and contains a stadium-sized chorus; and ‘Swim’ is a compelling rock song that displays a sense of confidence that has noticeably increased. It would have been easy for the band to make a fragile and brooding album, considering the circumstances in which it was made, but they decided to go in the total opposite direction. Proof of the fact that their new sound works wonders for them can be heard in the album closer ‘Chimera’, whose beautiful, flowing melody allows the group to end their exceedingly difficult second album with a flourish. Falling at the second hurdle is something that’s seen all too often in music, but O. Children have delivered a follow-up that’s nothing short of exceptional.
The album Apnea and the single Chimera are both out now on Deadly People.
Posted by Gareth O’Malley
Tags: 2012, album review, apnea, Gareth O'Malley, o children