Missed The 50: O Children ‘Apnea’
Missed The 50…
Back in June, London goth-rockers O Children quietly released one of the albums of the year. Flick through any magazine’s Albums Of The Year list in the coming months and it’s almost guaranteed the vast majority of them will have neglected to include ‘Apnea’ in their rundowns of the records that stuck most in our memories and dug deepest into our hearts in 2012.
If that is the case, those lists don’t speak for me. A remarkable step up from their 2010 self-titled debut, in ‘Apnea’, O Children produced one of the best records to be released in the last 12 months. Sometimes fist-pumping, sometimes glitteringly nuanced, its 47 minutes are flooded with brilliance and the sound of a band who should no longer be ignored.
Upon its summer release, it received largely positive reviews. Clash described it as “a direct, powerful work”, whilst we here at The Fly awarded it four stars out of a possible five. Notion wrote in their review “this album deserves all the praise it will undoubtedly receive” but, in hindsight, that feels a touch like tempting fate. The praise that was offered to the band was shortlived; a short flurry soon overshadowed with adoration for their peers. In a just world, Tobi O’Kandi and pals would have adorned lush four page spreads across the major music press and Britain would be as obsessed with ‘Apnea’ as it is with watching Gary Barlow’s diva strops on Saturday night TV. As it is, 2012 comes to a close with them feeling as underrated as they did in the interim between this record and their first.
If ‘Apnea’ passed you by the first time round, seek it out. Rid yourself of all distractions – stop idly refreshing Facebook or scrolling through your Twitter timeline, turn your phone off. Leave your preconceptions at the door. Devote yourself to O Children for one listen from start to finish and they’ll reward you richly with a record that’s as dark and ominous as it is blisteringly bright.
About midway through, you’ll hit ‘PT Cruiser’, the first single to be taken from the album. On the surface, it sounds like a fairly shallow song about a car but listen deeper and a more poignant message will strike you. Consider the back story to the album and the legal wrangle Tobi had to endure to avoid deportation and stay in the UK and lyrics like “don’t you know I am master of my land? Don’t you know I can travel anywhere?” suddenly shine with a much greater gravitas. It’s just one instance of the intelligent subtleties that punctuate the 11 tracks.
Its neighbour ‘I Know (You Love Me)’ forms the highlight of an almost flawless album; elegant and vivid but deep down a tearjerking piece of heartbreak pop. Nothing short of dazzling, it’s the kind of song that’ll absolutely floor you on first listen with every element of it – the Cure-esque sparkle of the guitar lines, the poised melancholy of the lyrics and that key change – combining to sock you right between the eyes in a way that feels so good, before you know it you’re immediately skipping back to its tender start.
Why O Children continue to languish in the lower levels of indie’s hierarchy is a complete mystery – something that’s puzzling both in the aftermath of just one spin of ‘Apnea’ and having lived with and loved it for near enough six months. Smart, stunning and self-assured, it should have propelled them onto a much busier and manic year. Maybe the rest of the world will cotton on with album three or maybe they are forever destined to be one of those cult bands that only become more prominent thirty years on from their heyday. Whatever their status, future or the amount of praise thrown their way, with ‘Apnea’ stuck on repeat, hopefully one day, O Children will get the recognition they deserve.