Owel challenges listeners, breaks today’s formula

It’s rare to find an album that can surprise you. Music nowadays seems centered around technology rather than talent, marketing rather than true musical prowess, and formulaic songs that are easy to swallow, rather than tracks that challenge you. Owel’s self- titled album, released Tuesday, goes back to the root of what truly good music is; allowing listeners a musical experience unparalleled by most modern artists.

The band, which is easily recognizable by its unique vocals and the use of strings and other orchestral instruments, further establishes its atmospheric, edgy vibe with its new album. Though the lead singer, Jay Sakong, classifies Owel’s music as pop, this album gives new meaning to the genre, incorporating many styles of music into each song.

From the soft notes of the first track, “Snowglobe,” listeners will be entranced with the simple melody and soft, ethereal sound of the vocals. From there, the CD picks up with “Scales”, which takes a twist on a classic rock sound with the crooning vocals and use of children’s chorals in the background. The song “Death in the Snow” brings out harsh, raw vocals reminiscent of a tortured rock ballad, yet the addition of strings in the background keeps the dynamism of the sound at the forefront.

The sound is not the only standout aspect of the album. The band doesn’t fall prey to faulty lyrics, with lines like “I don’t believe in much of anything, but everything is real to me somehow” in the quirky track “Nothing’s Meant.” The next song, “Float,” has a lilting, old-fashioned sound, picking up midway with a few quick chords as the pace quickens, and the urgency in Sakong’s voice filters through as he begs, “Please pull me under, for one more embrace.”

“Reborn,” the final track, ends the album hauntingly. The racing drums and croon of the strings will keep your heart beating until all sounds fade out and listeners are left with only the soft sound of the vocals hanging unsupported as the song draws to a close.

“Owel” is a CD for the music lover. Each track is complex, drawing on many sounds and styles to keep listeners not only engaged, but eager to hear the next note. Though the tracks are long, there are no lulls or lags and each track adds new dimensions, allowing the songs to stand alone or transition well together. Because of this, the album can be listened to over and over without growing stale.

Owel is a band redefining not only pop music, but music in general, which will make this album a staple for all types of music fans. One listen through will have you tossing out your other CDs in favor of this fresh, startling sound.

For more information on Owel and their new album, visit owelmusic.com.