Opossom – Electric Hawaii

January 01, 1970





There’s a
ramshackle trippiness to Opossom’s home-recorded, noise-blurred, psychedelia. Borrowing
from the Black Moth Super Rainbow playbook, singer/songwriter Kody Nielson
pulls bright surges of primary-colored melody out of trebly, rackety,
percussion-pocked production.  


Opossom is
the second indie pop phenomenon to emerge from New Zealand’s troublegum noise
rockers the Mint Chicks. Nielson, the main instigator, also plays drums in his
brother’s new outfit, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. This mostly solo endeavor is
far dreamier, less aggressively propulsive than Mint Chicks, filtering Beach
Boys harmonies and sidewinding Brian Jonestown guitar lines through a gritty,
messy lens. Scrappy hip hop beats clatter through dayglo blips and bleeps of
synthesizer. Nuggets-y bass lines bobble amid cool sheathes of wordless
harmonies. The vibe is effortless. That’s in a good way, as in a lush and
unstudied tunefulness that unspools like colored scarfs, but also occasionally
in a bad one, with a slouchy, slacker-ish, hardly-trying vibe that grates like
hipster stubble. The two best cuts are the ones where Nielson collaborates with
Kiwi pop singer (and sometime Kody and Bic other half) Bic Runga. “Why Why”
follows a creeping, chilling, off-center guitar riff into thickets of massed
vocals, an ideal balance of uneasy unfamiliarity and killer chorus. “Cola Elixir”
is even better, its pizzicato verse subsumed in wild, winding 13th Floor Elevator guitar riff and the slash and clatter of cymbals.


Electric Hawaii is soaked with DIY
atmosphere, to that point where sometimes (ahem, single “Blue Meanies”) you
just wish you could hear the song more clearly. Its bright colors often shine
through muck, and maybe look better for it, but I for one would like to
experience this music without the buzz and hum.



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