At this point next year, Boulder, CO’s electro-rock duo 3OH!3‘s Nathaniel Motte and Sean Foreman will be congratulating each other on their 10-year anniversary as bandmates. While it’s hard to believe that much time has flown by for the two-piece, it’s true – the double digits are starting to form on the act’s career. For those who are unaware, 3OH!3’s claim to fame came in the form of their 2009 album Want – featuring the triple platinum behemoth “Don’t Trust Me,” a tongue-in-cheek pop record that dared to rhyme “vegetarian” with “scared of him.” Soon after, the band made the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, commanded the crowds of Warped Tour for four consecutive years, schmoozed with Katy Perry and Ke$ha and made it alright for the Hot Topic crowd to appreciate hip-hop once again; not a bad way to spend the decade. However, all of the great qualities that made the confidently catchy Want and the slick, but hit-and-miss Streets of Gold entertaining listens have now all but vanished on Omens. Now all that’s left of the band is the bad taste of dated lyrics, boring beats and a lack of overall versatility.
Omens‘ main problems stem from these unfortunate downsides, plaguing a majority of the album’s tracks. What kills me the most is that the band’s dated lyrics and lack of versatility could have been prevented. With Omens pushed back from its original fall 2012 release date to just last week, a lot of the lyrical problems stick out like a sore thumb. Songs like “Black Hole,” “Live for the Weekend,” and “Two Girlfriends” feature references to everyone from Charlie Sheen to Lindsay Lohan. While nods like these might have felt relevant back when the record was supposed to be released, the album’s contents make it feel slightly more topical than the latest installment in the Scary Movie franchise.
The musical aspect of the album isn’t much better. While admittedly the act’s strong suit has never been their synth-heavy/dance-ready backing beats, they end up becoming one of the main reasons Omens fails to captivate its listeners. The album starts off strong with the pleasing ambiance of its title track, as well as with the closer “Do or Die,” which takes a simple hook and works its way over its appropriately obnoxious beat. The problem? The two qualities find themselves reappearing throughout the album on way too many occasions. These are the only mantras the duo seem to have for creating their music: for the sake of “shocking” the listener, or for creating a rich soundscape to get lost in. It’s for this reason that Omens is an extremely boring listen – something that wasn’t to be found on Want or Streets of Gold.
That’s not to say that all hope for Omens is lost – there are a couple of standout tracks that avid fans of the duo will end up coming back to in the near future. “You’re Gonna Love This” is a delightfully obnoxious track with enough potential for it break into the mainstream. The lyrics are ridiculous, the beat is dance floor-ready, and for the first time since the era of “Don’t Trust Me,” the universal appeal has never been higher. A similar case can be made for the excellent “Back to Life.” In an opposing move to “You’re Gonna Love This,” the lyrics are more of a serious nature…and unlike most of Omens‘ other serious tracks, you really feel the enjoyment the pair gets from making music. They take turns exchanging lines, eventually leading to a monumental chorus: “Cause if the party is dead / We can bring it back to life / We can make it through the night / If you listen to the words I say.”
These rare moments, while noteworthy, aren’t enough to save Omens from falling into the pitfalls that have commonly plagued 3OH!3 from creating an exceptional follow-up to Want. Whether you choose to blame it on the band’s lack of thorough ambition, a genre that thrives on the innovation of its artists or their label’s inevitable delay of the record, something specific happened to Omens that led to its demise. Whether this will mark a downfall for the duo or the birth of a new musical mindset, 3OH!3’s at a point in their career where staying stagnant is not an option anymore. However, it’s whether or not fans warm up to the new material that will see the band thrive or fall into obscurity. The choice is up to you.
Check Out: “You’re Gonna Love This,” “Back To Life,” “Do or Die”
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