ODESZA pt 2: Light, Loss and Golden Features

Covering 2020-2023, or Bronson, The Last Goodbye, Flaws In Our Design and Remixes.

ODESZA pt 2: Light, Loss and Golden Features

The second half of my ODESZA article, where I write about the tracks I loved from the electronic duo. You can listen along as you read with the embedded Spotify players for each album!

See ODESZA Pt 1 here, which covers the albums Summer's Gone, My Friends Never Die, In Return and A Moment Apart.

This write-up covers the two collaboration albums with Golden Features - a dance-focused BRONSON and dreamy Flaws In Our Design - as well as the emotional journey The Last Goodbye and their best remixes over the years.

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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. Other tracks may have comments on why I didn't add them. You can listen to the music by playing the Spotify embeds.

BRONSON

Released: 2020
Listened: 30 June 2023

A pleasant surprise in ODESZA's discography. There's a solid amount of build-up in this album.

  1. FOUNDATION: A solid opener with some nice electronic horn sounds. Reminds me a lot of the French 79 album Joshua, but then the vocals come in and take the spotlight. The track transitions perfectly into...
  2. HEART ATTACK: Have had this one in my playlists since 2021. lau.ra's vocals are smooth and the steady beat underneath set-up a much more subtle but still catchy chorus.
    "I've been patient
    But I won't follow"
  3. BLINE: The cut-off lyrics grab your attention then the steadily rising electronic hook is like a wave. It repeatedly washes over you until you're floating with it.
  4. KNOW ME: Really, really like this one. There's an intimacy created by the softly sung lyrics against a muted drum and bass. I like how the lyrics capture the exploration of knowing someone properly having learned a truth or seen them for the first time.
    "Cause I know you've been losing sleep at night, at night
    Even though you say you're satisfied, you lied, you lied
    You say you're fine, but in your mind
    It's like you know me for the first time"
  5. VAULTS: Amazing string/ horn/ bass augmentation. Like pulling a beat out from underground vaults and dragging it to the ground.
  6. TENSE: Too much bass for me, and a nice but out-of-place organ-heavy ending.
  7. CALL OUT: A nice hook, and one a lot more laidback than the others in BRONSON.
    "It all comes down
    For now, for now"
  8. CONTACT: Very cool high-tempo track. The heavy kick drum, electric guitar and modulated vocals actually remind me a bit of french DJ Kavinsky (watch for a coming article on his discography!).
  9. KEEP MOVING: Just a bit too cold for me. Can see this succeeding on a dancefloor in a club though.
  10. DAWN (feat. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs): This track feels like being led out of the darkness of a cave and seeing a soft sun. It's a transition from the driving drum and bass of the album with larger vocals and a return to melody. It's style actually complements that of The Last Goodbye (see below). Always have hope, and trust that if you keep moving forward you will overcome the problems plaguing you.
    "Take a step forward
    Lost in a darkness
    Trust yourself, let go
    And breathe in a lush air"

The Last Goodbye

Released: 2022
Listened: July 23rd, 2022

Soul crushing but uplifting at the same time. ODESZA strip back some of the dense production and far-reaching themes from A Moment Apart, and deliver a complete album that describes an experience of loss. It is definitely the ODESZA album that I have the strongest personal connection to, for the time it came in my life and what I interpreted its meaning as.

Deluxe Edition

Disc 1

  1. This Version Of You: Simply beautiful and the perfect opening for this album. Julianna Barwick's voice against some simple rising piano notes joined by an ethereal choir, slowly rising strings, constrained drums and weighted electronic guitar riffs.
    "This version of you
    Simply becomes real
    And you're right here with this version of you
    To see things as they really are"
  2. Wide Awake: Charlie Houston's voice is more real and the beat here is energetic despite the heartbreaking storyline being told. In a way, this is the antithesis of Say My Name from In Return. It's amazing what a kick drum under the beat, and its sudden absence in the pre-drop, can achieve in a song. The drop is awesome with the augmented vocals intercutting the electronic beat. There's so much emotion in the second hook especially. My interpretation of the lyrics in the drop is below.
    “I said you won’t tell me if I got you
    You won’t tell me”
  3. Love Letter: Killing it again with the lyrics, but the drum beat here is a real body-mover. Regardless of whether there is denial held in the statements, the beat and male voice from The Knocks exemplify strength. The drop here feels smooth with its fluidity between the notes. Nice arpeggios just before the end.
    "You can't break my heart
    'Cause I was never in love"
  4. Behind The Sun: Absolutely sick vocals, distinct from other Western electronic music. The little shout before the drop adds an Eastern flavour to the Middle-Eastern lyrics, and the drums add to the track’s worldly feeling. According to the internet, the translation is "from him I want the blue skies, from him I want the well lit night".
  5. Forgive Me: Simple lyrics in an upbeat track that actually disguises the bravery of the singer's actions. It also seems to be the antithesis of earlier track Love Letter, with a different approach to the same situation.
  6. North Garden: I found the drop simpler than other tracks, but came to like this one for how the central line is chopped up and the nice drum beats in the second half.
  7. Better Now: Seemingly ordinary until 0:45. Interestingly, I hear the line as "Better than the drugs they do nothing at all". This one seems to be about the consequences of trying to be authentic/ do something real with a risk of failure.
    "So what if I fall?
    Better that I tried instead of nothing at all"
  8. The Last Goodbye: This situation is absolutely heartbreaking. Bettye LaVette's voice alternates with the beat in portraying the difficulty of this dissolving relationship. There's a tertiary beat that rises like a wave and slowly fades out, the spaces between the notes increasing. I love the close to aggressive version of the lyrics that echo into the background of the main drop, like the real emotions bleeding through the production.
    "Let me down easy
    All your love for me is gone"
  9. All My Life: Taken in context of the album's journey, the persona has said their last goodbye. Now they've stepped back to reflect on their entire life, and where this relationship and moment fit in their journey. The choir singing is like a familiar return to earlier ODESZA works from Summer's Gone, but instrumentation from The Last Goodbye builds up. The persona is in a new place in life and coming to terms with it, and what they take forward from this loss.
  10. Equal: An energetic beat as the persona runs away while chasing a new love. The electronic notes are like spikes of sound in the reflection, with the lyric-less vocal hook coming in and out constantly.
    "And it's all in my head and I'm stood on the ledge and the people
    Walk through the day while I'm tryna make sense of the prequel"
  11. Healing Grid: Good accompaniment to its predecessor Equal, in that this track spends time acknowledging that any love they had was all about the other person. However, I feel that it's not all hate here - there is also a sense of realisation, and of explaining that everything was caused by and remains on the other person.
  12. I Can't Sleep: The way the electronic instrumentation cuts between the simple lyrics builds an awesome sense of tension. Then the pre-hook sample  which sounds hindi/ urdu takes it to another level. I hear "pagol" in there, which translates to crazy... but will await an official sample explanation/ translation.
  13. Light of Day: This longer closing track makes you ascend. OIafur Arnald’s voice is angelic, and there is no rush for a drop here. The track takes its time to build up with the piano and the beat to carry you through after an album of loss and goodbyes. I love the faint family saying goodbye.
    "If I reach the light of day now
    Somewhere on my way"

Disc 2

  1. Hopeful: Built on rising vocals, reminiscent of earlier ODESZA albums. According to ODESZA, "This one never made the album but we always felt it was special and in a way encapsulated our time away from the world while writing the record.".
  2. To Be Yours: The high-pitched pre-hook "ooh" sound and its subsequent builds are my highlight from this track. I can see why it's a bonus track haha, it doesn't feel like it fits the emotional journey of The Last Goodbye. Love how the lyrics go off at the end.
  3. All We Need - ODESZA VIP Remix: Wow, the fast-moving melody that throws off the familiar introduction adds a new dimension to this track. Little things like holding the last line and then having the beat drop are genius.
  4. Sun Models - ODESZA VIP Remix: Too similar to the original to warrant an add into my playlists.

The Last Goodbye Remixes

Just the tracks I liked

  • Equal - Nils Hoffman Remix: Adds a new drumline to the track.
  • The Last Goodbye - Eli & Fur Remix: A darker take on the lyrics with more mysterious undertones. The main hook is more a soundscape exploration than actual drop.
  • The Last Goodbye - Hayden James Remix: Ups the tempo and doesn't relent with a flavour of house music.
  • Light Of Day - Parra for Cuva Remix: Takes the really nice piano motif and adds some snare/ clap sounds. But even bigger than that, adds a chopped up vocal that sounds like "Don't be dead" or "Don't be there". It's in the spirit of the original.
  • Equal - NASAYA Remix: Some new electronic sounds and a faster pace than the original.
  • This Version of You - Joseph Ray Remix: More piano and increased repetition turn this into a more true-to-form electronic track. This remix still holds the softness of the original however.
  • Wide Awake - Hot Chip Remix: Adds an absolutely sick frenetic electronic backing, but allows the lyrics to remain the focus.

Flaws in Our Design

Released: 2023
Listened: July 21st, 2023

Another collaboration album with Golden Features. This one takes an interesting direction by trying to point out the mistakes we make that are a part of our human design.

  1. Dissolved in a Daydream: I love the return of the tape click, something which was a factor of ODESZA's debut album Summer's Gone (see ODESZA pt 1 for more). A dreamy opener for the EP.
    "Who knows where the magic disappears
    The second that your eyes close"
  2. Easy Money: A much more mainstream-sounding hook from ODESZA. I really enjoyed the space created in the track by the muted lyrics at 0:48. The track fades out after the frenetic opening. This one seems to be commenting on what we do for money
    "Desire is a loaded gun
    She's a direct descendant of the sun
    Souls pine to be entwined
    Beneath the faith glow of the lamplight"
  3. Waiting Forever: Great drop at 0:54. There's enough pauses and build-up that when that quick snare drum fill comes in, you can't help but nod along. The track seems to be about the dying burst of a dream that has been left stagnant for too long.
    "You once put on a show
    Waiting for dreams to materialize
    Now you losе all of your glow, I've been waiting forever
    Seeing thе world through gentle eyes"
  4. Heavier: There's a lot packed into this 4:17 minute song. The male voice yearns at the song's open, but the drop at 0:49 is amazing! Then the synth comes in at 3:02 and takes you even higher. Brilliant musical production and lyrical content. And it's not over - the breakdown at the end takes you for a final ride, then brings back the main hook.
    "Ooh, pristine, deftly moving
    No rules to abide
    Nothing left to hide

    Ooh, yeah you're taken
    But you're take-take-taken for granted (Hardly wanted)"
  5. Undone: The lyrics here are magical. It builds so naturally and feels like the perfect musical accompaniment to the EP's cover image. Having seen the flaws within ourselves and each other, the persona now adds a sense of optimism to their flawed design - else they will fall apart.
    "I'm struggling to find out where I stand
    I keep wrestling with God and with man
    Tryna forge a little life in-between
    A man can only but dream"
  6. Flaws in Our Design: A cheerful, jaunty beat that reflects acceptance in our flawed human experience. The bridge at 1:56 is an interesting choice, yet the upbeat hook's return signals a positive attitude in spite of any problems thrown in one's way.
    "Dream, dream, dreaming my days away
    Pails of pastеl blue engulf my days"

Best Remixes

  • Something About You - ODESZA Remix: A haunting piano beat and yearning female vocals build up to an amazing melodic drop. This one was an early introduction to the artist for me.
    "You turn and face me
    Maybe this time I'll choose
    What about a hit?
    What about a hit of your love"
  • Say My Name - Jai Wolf Remix - I've already written enough in Pt 1 about why this is one of my all-time favourite songs. Jai Wolf is one of my favourite underrated and undiscovered electronic artists, and his remix of this romantic In Return track adds some Eastern instrumentation (like a tabla). It's equally powerful in its nostalgia as the original is for me.
  • Divinity - ODESZA Remix: To be honest this remix feels like it could have fit perfectly into In Return or possibly A Moment Apart. An absolutely empyreal drop.
  • Selfish Soul - ODESZA Remix: This one grew on me until I had it on repeat every few days. As someone with long hair myself I relate to the deeper meaning behind the lyrics. But between the harmonies head-banger of a remix.
    "I don't want no fears
    I don't want no struggles
    I don't want no
    Does it make sense to you
    Why I cut it off?
    Ok one time if I grow it long
    Am I good enough, am I good enough?
    About time I embrace myself and soul
    Time I feed my selfish soul"

My Top Tracks

From this half of the discography, including Remixes

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. Wide Awake - from The Last Goodbye (2022)
  2. Selfish Soul - ODESZA Remix - (2022)
  3. This Version of You - from The Last Goodbye (2022)
  4. Undone - from Flaws In Our Design (2023)
  5. Know Me - from BRONSON (2020)

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