Ornamental Onion, a band made up of members from other Athens groups like The Eskimos, VG Minus and Fairburn Royals, released its debut album “Secret Snow” last month.
What can you expect from the new project? The 8-song album is brief at 29 minutes long, and it sounds like what you’d expect to hear from an Athens-indie rock group: creative production, instrumental features and angsty, sometimes abstract lyrics.
“You damn kids get off my lawn,” goes the chorus of “Mufen Man,” the first track on the album. The singer describes being “at [their] worst” while driving around in the car and how that’s the only time their child heard them curse. The song, both lyrically and musically, feels angsty and gives off a good bit of energy to kick off the album.
Lipstick on the Mirror
The second track on the album starts with some synth sounds, slowly adding in driving percussion and, eventually, vocals. “Lipstick on the mirror, staring into space, hoping, waiting for a surprise,” the vocalist sings, as the slow but driving song pushes forward. While the lyrics feel almost abstract to me, I really enjoyed this song’s electronic sound and its production as a whole.
“Mind if I turn this on? Cause I’m gonna be recording every word,” starts the third track on the album, “Hello World.” Throughout the song, the vocalist is trying to get to know the subject by asking about their childhood home, their favorite song and even their darkest thoughts. These inquiries are broken up by the chorus, “Hello world, hello world, hello love.” The song reminds me of the moments when you’re first starting to fall for someone and how you want to know everything about them. This paired with the track’s edgier sound, however, makes me wonder if something more sinister is at play here.
I Dropped It
“I Dropped It,” becomes something out of nothing as it fades into a groovy, percussion-driven track. At 2:30, it changes pace with some audio effects and a guitar feature exploring the higher ranges of the instrument. The band plays around a lot with dynamics, tempo and electronic sounds in this instrumental track.
The fifth track does a 180 turn from the instrumental track just before. The song has a more playful sound than others on the album, but the lyrics continue to explore some serious topics. The vocalist sings to the subject about their band and how their life is going, apparently obtaining most of their insights through newspaper stories and interviews. The lyrics “Read about your band in your latest interview, I’m a bit possessive of you,” make me think about a crazed fan or maybe an obsessed ex-friend or ex-lover.
Snow in the Capital District
This song starts with some harmonizing vocals and then, out of nowhere, a booming synth and electronic beat. “The secret snow that falls in my hand muffles the noise from the street,” sings the vocalist in the track that contains the album’s namesake. The vocalist sings about how the snow allows them to hear the footsteps of the subject and then about how “everyone is losing their minds,” because of the snow in the capital district.
This song has a nostalgic pop-rock feel, reminiscent of The Beatles. It starts out with the vocalist singing “Never as quite as good as you might think it’s gonna be,” with “think it’s gonna be” echoed by additional vocalists. The song has a pretty feel-good sound to it, which shows the album’s evolution from singing about kicking kids off the front lawn to now, where the singer sings “Everywhere I go I make it just a little warmer.”
Grown Some Legs
“Grown Some Legs,” is calm and methodical as it brings the album to a close. The lyrics describe the subject of growing legs, hands and essentially growing up. The ending section of the song indulges listeners in a breathtaking string feature, which fades out to the somewhat muted voices of what sounds like a children’s choir. As an indie-folk lover, the calm feel and string features on this song make it my favorite on the album.