Up A Tree

Listen closely and echoes of [a]Talk Talk[/a], [B]Icicle Works[/B] and [B]Aztec Camera[/B] begin to resonate beneath their shoe-gazey fuzz and high-strung melodies...

A few funny things about [a]Oslo[/a]. They’re from Brighton not Norway, they have a bass player called Robin Cook, and their rail-thin vocalist Lee Bryan has a shocking clump of white hair on the back of his (otherwise brunette) head. When he turns away, it looks like a giant Cyclops staring at you.

Everything else about [a]Oslo[/a], however, is dead serious. Many of their songs meditate on emotional distance, icily distilling the countless ways that love can sour. Bryan’s voice is half Bono snarl, half wavering Yorke falsetto, and he comports himself like a young Elvis Costello, clutching his guitar as if it was a belligerent entity to be wrestled into twitchy submission.

Each song springs forth with brazen lucidity, a kaleidoscopic world unto itself. ‘Talk To Feet’ is a dazed shuffle built around a repeated piano phrase that unravels backwards through an avalanche of stuttering drums, while ‘She’s So Strange’ is all angular guitar poses and hyperactive harmonies.

If there’s a common thread through all this sonic shape-shifting, it’s an insidious love of early-’80s post-punk pop. Listen closely and echoes of Talk Talk, Icicle Works and Aztec Camera begin to resonate beneath their shoe-gazey fuzz and high-strung melodies. Only one EP into their career, and already [a]Oslo[/a] have struck a fine balance between brooding intensity and giddy pop. Keep an eye on them.