Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Oleander – Something Beautiful (Album Review)

20130414-004642.jpgSomething Beautiful. That’s the title of the new album from Oleander. I was completely unsure what to expect. I mean, the band began with a massive hit in Why I’m Here, and had some success up until the band went on hiatus in 2004. Fast forward until now, and I suddenly receive a new album from a band I haven’t immersed myself in, in several years. What will the band sound like? Will it be like the early stuff? Will it be fresh? Will it be relevant? Those are all questions that I had, so I’m sure some of you will have them as well. That’s why I’m here. I’m going to share my thoughts on the album and help us figure out if the band’s latest effort stands up against their past materials.

Kicking off the album is Fight. The song is featured on the WWE ’12 video game and has helped to return a buzz about the band. For me, it was a welcome surprise. The song is aggressive, the riffs are awesome and the groove is addicting. The cadence that vocalist Thomas Flowers throws at you in the verse is absolutely perfect. Add in the chorus that just commands you to throw your fist in the air and scream “Fight!” along with the band, and you have a no-brainer for a crowd favorite. A perfect album opener.

Next up is the title track, Something Beautiful. When the band names an album after a song, for me it puts HUGE expectations on that song. The band obviously felt is was a song that had a lot of potential and meant a lot to them. As soon as you hear it, one thing comes to mind…Intense! After an attack on your ears, the song settles into a subdued verse that sets the table for the chorus, which is massive. The hooks are there and the production is terrific. This song could be the one that puts Oleander back on people’s radar. The one-two punch of Fight and Something Beautiful drive home the point that the band is back and prepared to deliver the goods.

Bulletproof is the next track on the album. With it’s acoustic intro and soft vocal delivery from Thomas, you get the feeling that this is the first “ballad” on the record. Guess what…WRONG! It’s a cleverly disguised rocker that is reminiscent of Oleander tracks from the past. This is the groove that the band became quite well known for. While Bulletproof doesn’t quite deliver like the first two tracks did for me, I’m still impressed. The melodies are infectious.

Until It’s Over is indeed the first ballad on the record. While I certainly grew up in an era full of ballads, I’m not certain how well they fly in today’s musical landscape. For me, the song is a bit dated, but for what it is, it’s great.

Never Too Late returns us to the rock that drew me in at the beginning of the disc. After a nice intro to build momentum, the riffs come hard and heavy. The momentum shift was much needed for me. This is possibly my favorite chorus on the record. I can close my eyes and see Thomas leaning into the crowd singing with great intensity into the faces of the fans in the front row. This track will be AWESOME live, and I for one hope I get to see it this Spring on tour.

Next up is Save the Best. This song has “radio” written all over it. The production and the formula used here are typical radio rock. That doesn’t take anything away from the track, though. It’s super catchy and will appease a lot of the existing Oleander fans. It’s a rocker, but for me, the pre-chorus drops too much momentum and the song never really gets back on track.

Save Me is the next track on this musical journey. With it’s ambient intro, you can instantly feel the momentum building. The soloing over the haunting melodies before the verse kicks in awesome and I would love to hear more of that on this record. The song settles back into a slower verse and the chorus is a mid-tempo rocker. It’s a really good song and after a few listens, I really do like it, but it just simply isn’t one of the stronger tracks on the album.

You Are the One reminds me of days gone by. This is classic post-grunge. The song makes a strong case for one of the best songs on the album. The groove is nice, the harmonies are perfect and the chorus is as catchy as they come. It’s not a heavy song, but it’s not a ballad, yet it still has a driving tempo. One that would really be enjoyed with the windows down on a nice summer drive. A top 5 song on the album for me.

The eerie intro to Daylight will make you pay attention. You’ll want to know what’s coming. As the drums begin to build momentum, you get your first insight into what the band has in store. Hitting the chorus straight off the intro, the band wastes no time in delivering the hook. The arrangement on this song makes it one of the more interesting songs on the album for me. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that makes this song so intriguing, but I’ll admit it, this song is amazing.

Second Best Wishes is a song that shoots for the heartstrings. The slow, moving song describes the feelings after a breakup and the feeling that you know you have screwed up. Seeing someone who you truly care for, having happiness with someone else. It’s something that most everyone can relate to. As for the song, it could do well in the adult contemporary market, but seems a little misplaced on this album. An album that has been much heavier than previous Oleander albums.

Where Do We Go From Here is another slower song. For me though, it fits into the overall soundscape of the album much better than the previously mentioned Second Best Wishes. With a nice cello playing underneath the guitars to create some enjoyable somber undertones, the nearly full acoustic track is haunting and beautiful. The subdued drumming keeps the track moving, and the pain within the melodies is palpable. I love this track.

How Do We Say Goodbye is the final track on the album. The song is absolutely perfect as the album closer. There is so much depth in the lyrics and emotion in the music, that I’m moved after only a couple listens. The song has latched onto me and is one I won’t soon forget. The dynamics are brilliant in this song. Playing softly to drive home a point, following it up with a fist full of heaviness and ending it abruptly, leaves me wanting, clamoring for more.

Oleander are back and are stronger than ever. The maturity they have shown in their songwriting is fantastic. If you have liked any of their previous material, this is a must-own for any Oleander fan. For someone who is just being introduced to them, this album lies somewhere between Shinedown and the Goo Goo Dolls. It’s a hard rock album, through and through.

Unsung Melody Score: 8/10

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