Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Hercules & Love Affair ft. Sharon van Etten – Omnion

Glad to hear it wasn’t just me who thought it was “Onion.”


[Video][Website]
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Joshua Copperman: I have a sort of “anti-soothing” playlist somewhere on Spotify; for moments when I’m drained of energy and crave simiarly drained music. It’s not escapism; it’s music for when escapism is impossible, when you want to hover with no shape — that’s also on the list — but you’re stuck in your body. Van Etten’s voice here is a perfect example, woozy and grounded even as the dream-pop background shifts and stutters. She tosses off heavy questions of identity casually, as the song threatens to become something bigger but just… doesn’t. There’s something absorbing about the way it never quite reaches catharsis, where even the ‘chorus’ is “can you help from beyond?”, a question that inevitably goes unanswered. As soon as it hit the final moments, bursting with life yet still resigned, I dropped it into the playlist.
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Will Adams: I’ve been here before: a plea that’s so quiet it barely leaves your lips despite asking for help from a spiritual source. The music fades in and out of view like light through window blinds, gathering strength in spots before subsiding to weightlessness.
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Alfred Soto: Less danceable but no less frantic, “Omnion” uses shivery electronics and the high, fluting voice of Sharon Van Etten to play with gender (“I want to be the best man that I can be”). As she becomes more available, so does the track blossom. I’ve heard better from Andy Butler’s project, but I appreciate he’s still trying.
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Julian Axelrod: “Omnion” clocks in at nearly five minutes, but feels twice as long. I don’t mean that as a slight: Rather than treading water, the track slowly and methodically piles on new melodies like a toddler stacking blocks. Synths are twisted and pulled like taffy, snares explode on cue until they don’t, and a woozy horn section stumbles in late like it just slept off a hangover. It’s emotionally overwhelming even before you register Sharon van Etten, bemoaning her shortcomings and fulfilling her unforeseen destiny as a house diva. She beautifully illustrates the frustration that leads her to ask for support, and the strength that comes after she takes that step. The song echoes this evolution, not escalating but expanding into a widescreen panorama. It feels like its own little world, and for those five minutes, there’s nowhere else I want to be.
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Edward Okulicz: It’s not a big issue that the music of “Omnion” wobbles around fairly aimlessly, because the moment where van Etten and the synths cry forth in the chorus — as if a last gasp to be saved by someone after being ignored or too quiet to be heard — is chilling. Wouldn’t normally say this about something so deliberately paced to be heard at full-length, but the edit in the video helps.
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Austin Brown: I already know the hold this song has on me won’t last. It’s too self-contained, too hermetic in its electro leanings, and too disjointed in its sonic components to work as one of those songs that seeps into my life and becomes part of the fabric of my existence. That said, for the time being I couldn’t give less of a fuck. I’m so tired, so exhausted by both my life and the world around me as both seem to fall apart and reveal their inherent lack of order. I don’t know where I’m going or what’s happening–hell, I don’t know the floor will be there for me with every next step I take (that is, if I get out of bed at all). In times like these–of which there have been more and more recently–I turn to music of a specific kind, that holds an affective reliability I know won’t let me down. Utopian in a Balearic sort of way, I guess. Probably female vocals. A Nicholas Winding Refn soundtrack, but less solipsistic. Et cetera, et cetera. Given that, there’s plenty of fodder for my ear throughout “Omnion.” There’s a little synth thing in the bridge that sounds like Classixx but that I couldn’t say what the exact name of the instrument is. Near the end of the song, a small trumpet riff enters the mix, miniature but steadfast in its optimism. It really could be a Chromatics song if Johnny Jewel got his hands on it. But more than any of that, “Omnion” does me one better, by taking the music I would probably say I have the most spiritual relationship to and literalizing that feeling. It’s a song, after all, about God, or a god, and the romantic hope for divine kindliness. And so of course I’m stopped in my tracks each time I hear Sharon Van Etten utter “I need to know there’s nothing to be scared of,” less pleading than calmly demanding in what I can’t describe as anything less than a hymn. That’s all I need too.
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Anaïs Escobar Mathers: I always forget about Sharon van Etten and then I hear her voice and I’m like, “what are you doing, she’s great!” In other words, I’m happy to hear her on this song with Hercules & Love Affair having enjoyed their remix of her song “Not Myself.” “Omnion” brings to mind mid 2000s Freezepop or even a more interesting version of what The Postal Service could have sounded like on a second album (now with less Ben Gibbard!). It’s a good collaboration fit here even if I can’t stop hearing “onion” every time Sharon sings “Omnion” but that’s more about me.
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