ODESZA pt 1: Euphoric Electronica for Youthful Moments

Covering 2012-2017, or from Summer's Gone to A Moment Apart.

ODESZA pt 1: Euphoric Electronica for Youthful Moments

ODESZA are a duo from Washington who produce electronic dance music, but without your typical house or bass drops - instead opting for harmonies, synth instrumentation and distinct vocals. I heard some of their tracks in early high school and then fell in love with their 2022 release, The Last Goodbye. I've now gone back through all their music, and dropped my thoughts on the tracks that I liked.

You can listen along as you read with the embedded Spotify players for each album! Pt 1 of ODESZA's discography covers the albums Summer's Gone, My Friends Never Die, In Return and A Moment Apart.

I find it difficult to rate music objectively, given it is such as subjective experience. In my Music articles, I will be listing the artist's discography in release order, adding the dates I first (fully) listened to the album/ EP.

Bolded tracks have my comments and are in my playlists. You can listen to the music by playing the Spotify embeds. 

I'm currently working on ODESZA pt 2, covering BRONSON, The Last Goodbye, and Flaws in Our Design.

Summer's Gone

Released: 2012
Listened: August 12th, 2022

The tracks tend to blend together into one soundscape that is porous with joy.

  1. Intro: "You take a sound. Any sound. Record it and then change its nature by a multiplicity of operations. Record it at different speeds. Play it backwards. Add it to itself over and over again. You adjust filters, echoes, acoustic qualities. You combine segments of magnetic tape. By these means and many others you can create sounds which no one has ever heard before.."
  2. How Did I Get Here: Will make you question what you are doing in your life and what has led to the present moment.
  3. I Want You: Love the vocal pitching in this one.
  4. Above The Middle: Love the voice used. This track reminds me of school for some reason.
  5. We Were Young: That tinkling sound is a nice way to fill the gaps and add something to the sounds.
  6. Today: Really like the guitar in this one. Vocals come a bit later and the beat is generally slower, creating an enchanting opening.
  7. Tuytus: Very cute overlay of a show host and audience laughter on a track that oozes joy.
  8. Rely: A group singing this time and the melodies from 2:24 elevate this one.
  9. Hey Now: The high pitched vocal is more constant here, like a metronome for the rest of the track to spring from.
  10. Don't Stop: I hear "lay down" from the lyrics here which is ironic for a song titled "Don't Stop". There's a shh sound that laps in and out likes waves before the music swells again. Also I love the faint conversations in the background that add life to the track.
  11. If You Don't (feat. Cumulus): I know it says "(feat. Cumulus)" but there are no real standout vocals here when compared to the rest of the album. Still a banging track, 0:32-0:49 and 2:10-2:26 are my favourite parts - that little motif of the rising vocals at the tailend of these sections is like icing on the cake.
  12. Today: A dance track that feels like sunshine when you step outside for the day.
  13. IPlayYouListen: Easily the strongest piece of music from the album. I imagine sitting a friend down to play music, making them listen, and both of us vibing whilst reflecting on adventures had. The crackling adds a lived-in quality and the piano hook is just catchy quality. 1:48 makes the song for me, a brief respite focusing on vocal range before we slowly are brought back to the driving synth and drums. It feels like breaking from underneath water into sunlight.

My Friends Never Die

Released: 2013
Listened: January 14th, 2023

A hidden gem from ODESZA's early dialogue-less work.

  1. My Friends Never Die: "Listen once to me..." then a lot of chopping up of the phrase "to my friends never die once true". The different wording combinations stay strong against running harmonies underneath the track.
  2. If There's Time: It feels silly to type but there is a literal "dum digga dumb" then there's words that are either chopped up English or in another language. The track continues to vibe regardless.
  3. Without You: For an album titled My Friends Never Die, there's a certain triumphant feeling at the 0:24 mark when the group vocals come in, like friends sweeping in to save you as a listener. The rest of the song serves as a very creative remix of Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know.
  4. Home: A much slower track after the blazing first 3. I hear "Let me go" and "Oh yeah go". Really like the sustained chime sounds.
  5. Keep Her Close: Really, really nice build-up for that first 45 seconds. From "Nothing at all" to sustained "ooh" sounds that make you hum along. Love the choppy drum beat in the pre-drop build-up as well. Some other vocals come in at the end which add more to the track.

In Return

Released: 2014
Listened: Some tracks in 2014/15, full album December 8th, 2020

Youthful nostalgia, with some strong individual songs.

Disc 1

  1. Always This Late: New sounds for a new album, then beautiful female vocals enter at 0:45. Even when the beat seems to drop the vocalist keeps going, adding further complexion compared to earlier albums. Then when the song properly drops the beat, the voice fades into the instrumentation. Sublime.
  2. Say My Name: What can I say about this song? One of my absolute favourites and one of the first ODESZA songs I heard all the way back in 2014/15. Zyra brings lyrics about a girl at a party to life, and I especially love her approach to the verses, pre-hook and bridge - not just the catchy chorus. The sung words fade in and out, there's a driving drum rythm and a tambourine keeping time, and crazy electronic instrumentation completely fills the space but in a controlled and synchronised manner. The little vocal chop-up is an awesome introduction and conclusion for the ear.
  3. Bloom: This one throws you into a beat and doesn't wait to 'Bloom'. I'm sure there's an Indian influence on the vocals at 0:59, and again I note the complexion on display compared to earlier ODESZA tracks. Instead of acting as an interlude for the rest of the track, that serves as another step-up for the music to build upon in the second real beat drop.
  4. All We Need: I really love that the vocal artist here is named "Shy Girls", as that adds to the visual interpretation of this piece. To me the most salient part of the track is its chorus:
    "I could be down on it
    You could be all we need"
  5. Sundara: The title translates to "Beautiful". A much faster-paced BPM without lyrics, then some sort of string instrument (a sarangi?) adds an otherwordly dimension.
  6. White Lies: This is one of the handful of ODESZA songs I listened to in my youth. An atmosphere of innocence and lyrics that conjure dreamy visuals. Jenni Potts's soothing voice is complemented by the electronic harmonica-like sounds.
  7. Kusanagi: The opening reminds me a lot of On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter, a famous piece of music that features in multiple Hollywood film scores. The vibes of this piece are its highlight, especially 1:46 onwards. Softer vocals, a slower pace and some sort of electronic instrument with sounds seemingly coming from a combination of a guitar, chimes and a piano.
  8. Echoes: A strong drop at 1:22. This song feels like a cream topping.
    "Underneath the moonlight, watch it invade me
    I’m overpowered by relentless beauty, beauty
    Its echoed in my voice
    Oh slow, touchdown, you’re grounded, oh, oh
    Misguided in the colors rainbow phase, oh sunlight hey"
  9. It's Only: Unlike Say My Name, Zyra delivers vocals in a relatively small pitch range in the verses. This only accents the sad meaning of the words sung, and a very powerful chorus. It also allows background vocals to support the second verse. The bells here add a sense of tension to the song and then there is an amazing build-up to 3:12, where the instruments take over.
  10. Koto: When I first heard this the rapid drums, trilling harp-like sounds and title's etymology made me think of Japan. I was surprised to learn that the sample was in fact from a Turkish poet, Süleyman Çelebi. Courtesy of the internet, it translates roughly to "Anything that begins in the name of God is never dry and inefficient".
  11. Memories That You Call: A really upbeat look back upon the greatest memories you share with friends.
    "Can feel your heart yearning slow
    Can feel, slow, all the memories that you call"
  12. Sun Models: A simplistic ODESZA song that feels like a day at the beach with friends.
  13. For Us: Some ear-grabbing chimes and tinkles, and ODESZA use a tabla! A really nice end to the album. The extended instrumental fade out is a great curtain closer.
    "It feels like its perfect
    I know, I know
    It'll be like the first time
    So take it slow

    It was as if the song was written for us
    When we sang along to the chorus"

Disc 2 (from the Deluxe Edition)

Just the bonus tracks I liked :-)

  • Light: The intonation here is the highlight for me. 1:07 is like a beam of light in a dark part of your life.

A Moment Apart

Released: 2017
Listened: January 2nd, 2023

In my opinion ODESZA's strongest album, aided by unique vocalists and a mastery of electronic instrumentation. It's not a short album either, but every track takes its share of the spotlight.

Disc 1

  1. Intro: Great voiceover to set the tone for the album. It's in the details! Like the giggle, the subtle background clicking and the crackling noise.
    "So the cosmonaut decides
    The only way to save his sanity
    Is to fall in love with this sound"
  2. A Moment Apart: My first real introduction to ODESZA. I actually was moved by hearing the song in this coming out video by Eugene Lee Yang from Buzzfeed/ The Try Guys on socials. You really can feel a life described in this 5 minute segment, from beginning to quiet struggles and triumphant conclusion. The little echoes of "I love you" amongst the electronic sounds into held strings make this one powerful.
  3. Higher Ground: How can a song that is a cry for help also be a burst of life? The lyrics call for safety, but the beat drives onwards and the melody betrays the hopefulness of the situation.
    "Save me, I’m holding onto you
    My soul is fading, I’m falling into blue
    Why don’t you save me?
    My blood is running cold
    So lift me up and give me higher ground"
  4. Boy: A single vocalist holding notes underneath great beats. This one is an energy raiser. 1:36 to the second drop is a highlight.
  5. Line of Sight: One of the best drops on the album, intercut with high-pitched vocals. I love how muted those vocals are, and there's great use of silence between phrases and sections.
    "And I don't learn, no, I don't learn
    It'll all be fine this time"
  6. Late Night: A huge sense of adventure. The pre-drop here is the same feeling I get when stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, or looking up at the sky and stars and seeing how small our lives and problems really are. Then with the drop, you throw yourself back at the energetic buzz of living.
  7. Across The Room: Bridge's swung vocals have you bopping whilst paving the way for a sweeping vocal performance in the chorus. Funnily enough Bridge does not swear, despite lack of gaps between "Even if I go" making it seem so.
    "Of the good time, good time, good time we had"
  8. Meridian: Similar to Late Night, I get a sense of adventure from this one, but as a group - enhanced by the multiple vocals mixed together as a group. There's a constancy of the beat that everything else is built upon.
  9. Everything At Your Feet: There’s a sense of discovery in this one. My interpretation of the track title is that you’re above the world, simultaneously making it below you and also there for you to explore. However, the translated lyrics tell a different story - of complete vulnerability, and leaving yourself before and below another.
  10. Just A Memory: An emotional downer. Lyrics are powerful for anyone who has been in this situation. Some nice acoustic guitar strums. The echoes are haunting and there is a tenderness on show throughout, emphasised by the lack of electronics here.
  11. Divide: I like basically every line in this song. There is a feeling of connection, despite the track’s title - both on a broader level in the verses, and a personal relationship one in the chorus. The cutoff of “Everybody-” at 3:12 emphasises how good the electronic music is.

    "Everybody prays to God by different names, tell me your version"
  12. Thin Floors And Tall Ceilings: The crackling adds another dimension to this track! I greatly appreciate the slower build-up here. When the drop comes at 1:37, you can fully fade out and ride the longer notes of the melody.
  13. La Cuidad: The clapping kickstarts a high-energy track. When the beat drops to half-time in the choruses, the vocals are truly ethereal. I go from running to floating within a single track.
  14. Falls: Powerful message in a song that really is about the opposite of falling. Lyrics and a little bit of drumming carry this one.
  15. Show Me: An Indian sample and great rhythm are the focuses here. There is a “Show Me” lyric underneath it all, but the faster-moving parts take the attention.
  16. Corners of the Earth: Beautiful choir opening. For an album that swings between personal relationships and grand human connection, this track bridges that gap for me at the very end. Two people finally come together with modified brass and RY X's gentle singing giving way to a triumphant beat at the album's conclusion.
    "Tonight, we're golden
    We fall towards each other
    We fall to the edges of the Earth
    We burn tonight as one"

Disc 2 (from the Deluxe Edition)

Just the bonus tracks I liked :-)

  • Loyal: Without a doubt ODESZA’s best drum beat, drilling away with a fire to prove something. The vocals and lower brass add an element of darkness that isn't really present across the rest of ODESZA's work.
  • Memories That You Call - ODESZA & Golden Features VIP Remix: Just adds some auditory richness and depth to the track via some bass and voice warping. Feels slightly more epic than the original, but loses some of the youthfulness which was an overall feature of the In Return album.
  • It's Only - ODESZA VIP Remix: There's a rising tension created in the remix through the steadily rising drum beat. A different take to the soothing original.
  • Falls (Reprise): Just strong vocals from Sasha Alex Sloan.
  • Higher Ground (Reprise): Strips away all the electronics to focus on Regina Spektor's voice. Adds traditional orchestration with an excellent string arrangement that emphasises the softness on display in this song - yet still has a kick from the drums.

My Top Tracks

From this half of the discography

So difficult to do this! My rankings will likely change with further listens. But I think these tracks will remain somewhere in the mix of my top ODESZA songs. They also had the most impact on me at first listen.

  1. IPlayYouListen - from Summer's Gone (2012)
  2. Say My Name - from In Return (2014)
  3. A Moment Apart - from A Moment Apart (2017)
  4. Divide - from A Moment Apart (2017)
  5. Higher Ground - from A Moment Apart (2017)
  6. Corners of the Earth - from A Moment Apart (2017)
  7. La Cuidad - from In Return (2014)
  8. It's Only - from In Return (2014)
  9. All We Need - from In Return (2014)
  10. Keep Her Close - from My Friends Never Die (2012)


Thanks for reading the article!

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