Heavenly. · February 28, 2020
The album, Disco Volador by British group The Orielles is a galactic album that sends its listeners into space with no way of returning home. Its strengths lie in the two songs, “Space Samba” and “Bobbi’s Second World;” both released as singles before the album. According to their label, Heavenly, the album sounds like “voyaging through cinematic samba, 70s disco, deep funk boogies, danceable grooves and even tripping on 90s acid house.” This sound is portrayed in most of the songs but the music feels monotonous, like it is being dragged on throughout the album. Disco Volador pays homage to glamorous discothèques of the late seventies and early eighties but it lacks base and strong vocals.
The album successfully conveys the wanderlust of a child. It’s practically taken from the active imagination of a child. “Come Down on Jupiter,” introduces the listener to the adventure that they will go on into space with The Orielles. Themes of space travel and dreaming are consistent in the sound of the album, but the lyrics are abstract and the deeper meaning behind each song is hard to find. The instrumentals are the strongest part of the cosmic pop album. They do a good job of keeping pace in every track, becoming a unique example of how sound manipulation has the power to displace the listener.
“Come Down on Jupiter” is an excellent example of how the music is saved by the musicians. The shift in the sound from a sleepy beat that drags on, to a buoyant track, keeps the listener interested in what direction the song goes next. The wide arrangement of instruments with technological sounds keeps the music interesting and brings the listener on a journey with diverse harmonies.
The album meshes with the glitz and glamour of the 70’s and 80’s, but would not blend in with popular music played at present-day clubs and bars. The only piece they are missing is the energy and excitement of the disco-era. The lead singer, Esmé Hand-Halford lacks initiative in the songs. The cohesion of her voice with the instruments makes the music monotonous. If she took charge over some of the songs and fell out of the gimmick of sleepy galactic space travel, then the album would feel stronger. In the music video for “Come Down on Jupiter” it seems that the music is meant to feel slow and monotonous but its lackluster makes the entire album feel slow from the start. The shifts in tempo in the song are well done, but overall the song is a close relative to every other record on the album. The tracks are stuck on the broad theme of space travel, lacking a specific idea to make them unique. Older records including power houses like Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, and Chaka Khan gave disco hits life and popularity. During the disco era, these women were heard far and wide at clubs but the airy tones that Hand-Halford sings are not attention-grabbing for these types of audiences.
Overall, the album felt gimmicky. It does not feel like a break-out album for the group to gain immense popularity from. They have good dancing beats incorporated into songs like “Space Samba,” “Rapid i,” “Bobbi’s Second World,” and “7th Dynamic Goo.” The album is meant to take listeners to a galaxy far far away but the lead vocals fall flat and grow tired. The instrumentals from the saxophone, guitar, and piano keep the music alive and give it the potential to reach a larger audience. Some songs keep a bounce that will engage listeners like the final track of the album, “Disco Volador.” If songs like “Come Down on Jupiter” also incorporated that excitement then the album would feel more like a lively disco and less like a sleepy dream.
The album fails to break out of monotonous songs about aliens and leaves the listener wondering if they can come up with anything more exciting.