Wake Owl - The Private World of Paradise

Released March 4, 2014

By Jessica Rinfret

My first impression of Wake Owl’s The Private World of Paradise was one of easy cool. The Vancouver and Portland-based ensemble, composed of Colyn Cameron and Aiden Briscall, have undoubtedly come up with an album full of funk and soul featuring a very chill 70s vibe that is sure to impress audiences. It was initially difficult for me to put into words the way the album and even individual songs alternate between an old world, classic 1950s-60s sound to a more funky, 70s sound. The song Letters in particular struck me for this quality, as it starts out like a ballad that my grandparents would have listened to, evoking images of nearly deserted sock hops, kids swaying to the last song of the night. Later on though, it picks up with synths and drums and leaps forward in time. The song itself I found to be extremely emotionally evocative and melancholic, and is definitely a favourite. In contrast, the track Vacation lives up to its name, with an almost Beach Boys-esque quality, in the weirdest of ways. The chorus in particular sounds vintage-tropical, and makes me yearn for a little surf. While the majority of the tracks were enjoyable and flowed well, many with a dreamy, carefree sound (like Kid), there was something disconcerting about Buffalo that I personally wasn’t a huge fan of. The sound to me was a bit awkward, off, and a little creepy. There wasn’t really a groove present that a listener could get into, which is unlike the rest of the album. Madness of Others also evokes the uncertain feelings, sounding like the incarnation of an eerily peaceful bad dream. This is an album that should be considered in its entirety. It’s easy to listen to, and I found it very possible to just turn off my brain and listen to the majority of it. The high pitches, synths, and guitar are relaxing, cohesive, and oddly soothing. Normally when you say that an album could put you to sleep, it’s a bad thing. But not in this case—the sound is simply so chill and cool that it’s easy to get lulled into a trance. When I listened to it critically, there were definitely some songs that I enjoyed more than others, and I personally felt that the high-pitched synths could be a bit much after a while, but it didn’t impact my overall enjoyment of the album. All in all, this is an album that will appeal to a broad audience, and is a strong, cohesive debut that definitely coins a signature sound. It will be interesting to see where these guys go from here. I think it’s safe to expect great things.