Between the onomatopoeiac name and the E.T.-meets-The Exorcist cover, oOoOO runs the risk of self-parody before the record even starts. Luckily, what follows foregoes the histrionics and moodiness you would expect. Unfortunately, it also foregoes almost anything risky or original.
The usual cloud cover of “mystery” is eschewed here to reveal anemic derivations of more fringe forms of dance music. oOoOO isn’t that bad, and actually mitigates the damage inflicted by Salem’s rise, crash and burn. But it’s also not terribly compelling. “Mumbai” is basically dubstep-lite. And “Burnout Eyess” is crippled by nostalgic and superlative use of Auto-Tune. Kanye’s moved on. These guys should, too.
Not that I’m purposely trying to get too down on oOoOO. “Hearts” unassumingly starts in Nite Jewel-dominated bedroom dance territory. The vocals here lack Ramona’s impish Nico-isms, a voice that’s just a shade of a ghost. Then, out of nowhere, a lip-biting funk guitar solo breaks things open at the halfway point. The rhythm section then closes things out with a synth and drum call-and-response that caps off a totally unexpected jam. But the energy dissipates quickly; “Plains is Hot” drifts by in swells of inarticulate drum machines and synthesized experimentation. A Visions of Trees remix for “Burnout Eyess” attempts to breathe some life into the end of the album but tries way too hard.
What it lacks in originality, oOoOO also lacks in pretention. It’s not a faux-lacksadaical posture so en vogue with the chillest of bands, either. Despite its proximity to artists from the genre formally known as witch house, this EP foregoes drama and establishes oOoOO’s identity pretty clearly. Sadly, it’s just not that interesting. For every song except “Hearts,” there’s an antecedent that simply does it better. What you’re left with at the end is less than ambivalence; it’s just flat out apathy. In this case, it really would be better to be hated or loved.