The Orielles Make Their Charming Indie Danceable on 'Disco Volador'

Photo: Holly Fernando / Courtesy of Heavenly Recordings

On Disco Volador, the Orielles offer a thrift shop of sounds and gratify those who like their indie rock danceable.

Disco Volador
The Orielles

Heavenly Recordings

28 February 2020

On their solid 2018 debut album Silver Dollar Moment, the Halifax-based band the Orielles delivered polychromatic art-rock showcasing their knack for sugary hooks and a nuanced percussive underpinning that set them apart from other tuneful indie groups. Songs like "Old Stuff, New Glass" and "Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)" proved their funk nearly as flavorful as their pop. It shouldn't surprise that in a 2018 interview with the webzine Highclouds, the band name-dropped both the Pastels and A Certain Ratio as inspirations, accounting for both catchy-chorus ear-candy and club-rocking polyrhythms. Still, on Silver Dollar Moment, it seemed the band had yet to cash out on the groove.

The title of the Orielles' sophomore album, Disco Volador, telegraphs their development towards whetting the rhythms and gratifying those fans who like their indie rock danceable. It's a thrift shop of sounds – samba, post-punk, funk, dream pop, and nods to both 1990s alt-rock and acid-house – that bring to mind music writer Simon Reynolds' observations on the tendency of 21st-century bands to renovate and recombine past styles. In his book Retromania, Reynolds criticizes this approach, claiming that constantly mining the past can lead to creative stagnation for both individual bands and the culture at large. Maybe it's a matter of perception; what I hear in Disco Volador is music that's fresh and optimistic, the sound of a band having a blast splattering their record collections through your headphones.

"All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition," says drummer Sid Dee Hand Halford. "This is the sound of where we are at, right now."

Though the band's sound is distinctive and Disco Volador isn't overshadowed by its vast lineup of influences, the album will appeal to music geeks who enjoy guessing the sonic predecessors of modern indie bands. The groove on "Bobbi's Second World" brings to mind late 1970s/early 1980s funk-forward post-punk acts like Konk and Lizzy Mercier Descloux. Whereas the chorus on "Memoirs of Miso" sounds like 1990s-era Slowdive removed a few layers of reverberative gauze.

In that same Highclouds interview from 2018, the Orielles claimed to have peaked the number of tracks available to record for the song "Sugar Tastes Like Salt". This maximalist approach is apparent on Disco Volador. Though songs average less than four-and-a-half minutes, each is loaded (but not cramped) with styles and ideas. "7th Dynamic Goo" features synth stabs reminiscent of 808 State, prominent cowbell, synthesized worms squirming beneath uptempo drumming, a playground whistle calling between the left and right channels, and a chorus that equates dancing to astral travel.

One of the album's consistent themes seems to be a childlike fascination with space. "Euro Borealis" opens with a sparse funk groove before unfurling a 1960s girl-group-style harmony doused in swimming pools of reverb. The keyboards dappled throughout splash and bubble up to the surface like bursts of caffeinated sunshine. The album's opener, "Come Down on Jupiter", is phaser and flanger-drenched dream pop that flits between downtempo cruise and uptempo gallop.

"Come Down on Jupiter" is representative of this band's biggest strength. The tone color is sumptuous, and the song could have been carried by melodies alone and delivered as a straightforward pop jingle; but the percussion is just as enlivening, and when Esmé Dee Hand Halford cranks her bass loud enough, she firmly asserts this as a funk track. More proof that melodic headrush and dancefloor liberation are not always discrete prerogatives. And damn good proof at that.





Learning to Take a Picture: An Interview With Inara George

Inara George is unafraid to explore life's more difficult and tender moments. Discussion of her latest music, The Youth of Angst, leads to stories of working with Van Dyke Parks and getting David Lee Roth's musical approval.


Country Westerns Bask in an Unparalleled Sound and Energy on Their Debut

Country Westerns are intent on rejecting assumptions about a band from Nashville while basking in an unparalleled sound and energy.


Rediscovering Japanese Director Tomu Uchida

A world-class filmmaker of diverse styles, we take a look at Tomu Uchida's very different Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji and The Mad Fox.


The Charlatans' 'Between 10th and 11th' Gets a Deluxe Edition

Not even a "deluxe" version of Between 10th and 11th from the Charlatans can quite set the record straight about the maligned-but-brilliant 1992 sophomore album.


'High Cotton' Is Culturally Astute and Progressive

Kristie Robin Johnson's collection of essays in High Cotton dismantle linear thinking with shrewdness and empathy.


Lianne La Havas Is Reborn After a Long Layoff

British soul artist Lianne La Havas rediscovers herself on her self-titled new album. It's a mesmerizing mix of spirituality and sensuality.


PC Nackt Deconstructs the Classics with 'Plunderphonia'

PC Nackt kicks off a unique series of recordings dedicated to creating new music by "plundering" unexpected historical sources such as classical piano pieces or chamber orchestra music.


Counterbalance 24: The Doors - 'The Doors'

Before you slip into unconsciousness, Counterbalance has put together a few thoughts on the Doors' 1967 debut album. It's number 24 on the Big List.

Reading Pandemics

Parable Pandemics: Octavia E. Butler and Racialized Labor

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, informed by a deep understanding of the intersectionality of dying ecologies, disease, and structural racism, exposes the ways capitalism's insatiable hunger for profit eclipses humanitarian responses to pandemics.


'Tiger King' and the Post-Truth Culture War

Tiger King -- released during and dominating the streaming-in-lockdown era -- exemplifies in real-time the feedback loop between entertainment and ideology.


GOD's 'God IV - Revelation' Is a Towering Feat of Theologically-Tinged Prog Metal (album stream)

GOD's God IV - Revelation is beautiful and brutal in equal measure. It's a masterful series of compositions. Hear it in full today before tomorrow's release.


Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.