Ever wanted to visit Scotland, circa 1978? You’re mostly out of luck – but if only the music attracts you, then Omni can help. For their debut Deluxe, the Atlanta-based band affect many of the slightly funky but plenty jittery blokes from Glasgow’s Postcard label. You can hear where the band embraces the same chiming, Byrds-ish melodies as Orange Juice on tracks like “Jungle Jenny” and “Cold Vermouth;” you can feel where they injected the choppy beats and hyperactive bass lines from Josef K (“Wire”) and, to a lesser extent, Scars (“Wednesday Wedding”).
However, while the fidelity on Deluxe is lower than most basements, Omni carry themselves with a practiced cool, far more assured and stable than Orange Juice’s Edwyn Collins or Josef K’s Paul Haig. That hipness should go down well with other image-conscious kids – but it was precisely the vulnerability of those Postcard bands that distinguished them from the crowd. Listen to live recordings of the Fire Engines, and you’ll brace yourself for an explosion. In contrast, Omni coat themselves in fireproof chrome, especially on the suave and breathy “Siam.” That’s not to diss their style, per se – the geometric attack of Frankie Broyles and the artfully slung lyrics of Phillip Frobos (who also mans the bass) can wriggle into startling shapes – but they lack a sense of adventure, a desire to stir the environs around them.
As a result, Deluxe spins with an unintended sheen, the kind that attracts and entertains but rarely disrupts. Still, while Omni present themselves with the same monochrome hue as many concurrent post-punk bands (hello, Viet Cong — oh, I’m sorry, Preoccupations), they at least know how to relax and crack grins. The one-note piano solo at the end of “Eyes on the Floor” is a delight; “Plane” bounces and canters at odd angles, like a playful argument between friends that enjoy arguing; “Afterlife” suggests garbing the corpse in fine digs so they’ll pass on with the soul. It’s not the same generous honesty that the Postcard lot offered, but apathy suits Omni well. Style this hip can’t be sullied with compassion.
Deluxe is out tomorrow via Trouble in Mind Records. Pre-orders are available here.
Omni will celebrate the release of Deluxe tonight at Brigantine Beer Parlor and Recreation Hall. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is FREE.