Outdoor Velour’s Face The Strange is an album all about change, right down to the David Bowie reference in its title. (Or, perhaps, it’s less about change and more about ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, as it were). It’s a soundtrack to an Indiana uprooting and all the weirdness that can come with that, especially for a pair of thirty-somethings whose bodies, brains and hearts are damn well settled into jobs, friendships, hobbies and other comfortable routines. With OV, at least, it would appear that the grass is, in fact, greener.
After a pair of EPs, 2011’s Don’t Panic and 2012’s Portrait, Face The Strange is OV’s first full-length offering and first as a Lafayette, IN-based band. While past OV music more or less entirely resided under the colloquially-named “Fuzztown” umbrella (it’s fuzzy Motown, you see), Face the Strange is a wider exploration of Cara Kinnally and Greg Simpson’s diverse musical palettes. Sure, that fuzzy, poppy, accessible backbone is still there—scope those hooks in “Casper The Friendly Ghost” (originally by Daniel Johnston) and “Got The Hives”—but there’s plenty of room for experimentation, too. “Squaresville” is a hot saxophone solo away from being a Huey Lewis and the News-esque ‘80s doo-wop revival ballad. The shimmery electronics of “Don’t Know” complement its dreamy, shoegazey guitars in an extremely satisfying way—you’ll notice something new with each subsequent listen. The glockenspiel and accordion adorning “Sugar Love” texturally elevate it from a poppy acoustic number to something with roughly a thousand times more personality. “Zapp’s Song,” a warm tribute to Kinnally and Simpson’s beagle who began life as a stray, then a foster, then a beloved member of the family knocks you over in the best way with flutes and strings and saccharinity. “Endless Circle” showcases yet another side of OV, with Kinnally and Simpson trading vocals over an instantly appealing retro pop aesthetic.
“The album is definitely all about changes in our lives,” Simpson says. “The move was about a year ago, so while a lot of music was written before, a lot of lyrics weren’t finished up until after.” The emotionally catchy “Echoes,” he explains, is “explicitly about leaving Bloomington.” But on the other side of the coin, both “Mother Hen” and “Squaresville” reflect a degree of relief for Simpson surrounding the move. “They’re both about the job at my last school in Bloomington, one thing I was happy to change,” he declares. What’s more punk than incorporating unconventional instrumentation into songs about hating your job anyhow?
Showcasing every angle of the eclectic band, this collection is sure to please. Face the Strange is due out on November 6th, 2015.