How many lives are allowed for a band? How many reincarnations may it have? OSees have had six different names before this latest one over the course of their 26-year lifetime. They moved up and down California’s Highway 1, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, playing everything from freak folk to psychedelic music, garage rock to punk hardcore. Prolific, to put it mildly, John Dwyer has consistently carried his music across decades and lineup changes, discovering new nuances to his diversified sound and keeping busy during the pandemic with countless new on-the-spot projects.
Intercepted Message, the new OSees album, isn’t a Covid record though – that was last year’s A Foul Form. It is, in Dwyer’s own words, “a pop record for tired times.” The poem written by the songwriter to introduce the album is no doubt the best part of the whole shebang: “Early grade garage pop meets proto-synth punk suicide-repellant,” it explains. “From the get-go to the finale … A distant crackling transmission of ’80s synth last-dance-of-the-night tune for your lost loves… Suffering from Politic [sic] amnesia? Bored of AI-generated pop slop? Then this one is for you, our friends”. And it’s a pity that these bombastic promises were not kept in the music. However tight and uptempo they may be, in fact, the 12 tracks sound tired and knackered almost from the beginning. Tired times indeed.