EP REVIEW: OHNOVA – I Can’t Sleep
Glasgow’s OHNOVA bring their mix of alternative meets big-riff rock on five track EP I Can’t Sleep. The neoteric desert rock trinity of Paul Morton, Matthew Sharp and Ciaran Whyte has started to reap rewards, after finding latest single Heavy Smile surface on the radio waves, and they’ll be hoping to continue that trend with this latest release.
Title track I Can’t Sleep’s rhythmic instrumentals run with repetitions of indie rock guitars, reflecting a resemblance to renowned Arctic Monkeys’ riff from Do I Wanna Know? The downbeat opener explodes into an up-tempo tantrum of buzzing bass, crashing cymbals, and the coarse croons of vocalist Paul Morton’s pain to breath in a world of sleeplessness, as the chorus cites a lyrical depth that touches on the harshness of reality.
Banjo Mac and Heavy Smile laugh in the face of adversity, turning sorrowful situations into spirited scenarios, embodying the ethos of OHNOVA’s optimistic outlook. Banjo Mac is big, bold and bravely bombastic, with the breakneck guitar shredding speeds of Sharp and Morton’s catchy vocal hooks. Morton’s lyrics of living a lie are echoed in the track’s cathartic music video: a western fantasy of an outlandish cowboy portraying humour over the track’s dark, deep subject matter. Morton describes the song as “a particularly bad time in my life. I was too busy doing everything I thought I had to, every decision I made was for other people, not for me. The song itself is a reflection on that time and basically asking myself how could I have done all that? How could I have lived a lie for so long, pretending everything was fine when I was really struggling”.
Single Heavy Smile supplies heavy sounds to hard-hitting lyricism, lightheartedly lifted in an ironic homemade DIY produced music video. A power duo of bashing percussion and thrashing guitars over-saturate the euphoric harmonisation and earnest vocal delivery, divulging into the human trickery of being made out to be a fool by a fellow being. Morton’s rough yet rich tones reinforce “You fool me once but I cannot deny/That I know that you will fool me twice.”
Manipulated and modulated vocals and a wickedly short running bass line form the basis and beginnings of track three Home. The simultaneously sung chorus notes are more homophonic than the previous tracks’ snappy segments, while the verses thunder into a blur of sounds, pairing popping percussion and the high hitting register of Morton’s range.
Easy Way Out is the sonically heavy anomaly amongst the band’s back catalogue of succinct songs. Screamed verses, soaring melodic choruses and sincere songwriting prevail, as verses seamlessly bat between Morton’s heavy and harsh shouts. The frenetically fast instrumentals of Sharp’s volume maximising riffs and Whyte’s synergy between pedal to bass drum combo curate a real crowd clapper.
I Can’t Sleep brings a double threat of lyrical honesty and visionary humour, taking taboo topics and turning the tables on darkness through hilarity. The record’s importance to the three-piece is prevalent: “I Can’t Sleep is the culmination of a good few years work. We chose these songs because they represent the idea that when life gets you down you need to get back up. That’s what I hope these songs do for the listener because I know that’s what rock music has done for us our whole lives”.
Standout Tracks: I Can’t Sleep, Banjo Mac, Easy Way Out
For Fans Of: Arctic Monkeys, Biffy Clyro, Queens of the Stone Age
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood