This is one of those times when the hype surrounding a release is fully justified.
Odesza is Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of Seattle. The duo met their senior year of college, began making music, and released their debut, Summer’s Gone, the fall after graduation. They have been heating up Soundcloud over the past two years, amassing millions of listens and inking a deal to a Ninja Tune imprint — certainly not shabby accomplishments for the five year reunion.
Mills and Knight have embraced the recent bend back towards pop music, and In Return really heralds this style of music. The album is full of guest vocalists, who perform clean vocals and then also get chopped up amongst the duo’s sun-drenched melodies and slick beats. The album’s top two tracks, “Say My Name” (ft. Zyra) and “Memories that You Call” (ft Moonsiren), are so catchy it’s hard to fight the temptation to spin them on repeat for hours. The anthemic “Memories” is so crisp that any list recounting the year’s top tracks that hasn’t included it is surely in error.
In Return isn’t all focused on pop, though. Although many will be drawn to that side of the album, it’s to the discredit of Mill and Knight, who are great producers and have laid down a fantastic foundation for their guests. Vocalists generally serve to flesh out melodies and otherwise provide icing on the proverbial cake, yet even in their absence, the album would be a notable addition to the electronic landscape.
In the single-focused land of Soundcloud, we’ve seen many artists deliver some promising tracks and fall flat on their face in the ensuing hype. Odesza have bucked the trend and made good on the talent displayed over the past two years. In Return takes the mesmerizing tunes we’ve come to love from the band’s singles and coalesces it into an album that actually works. These guys know music.