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Review | Overhead, the Albatross – Learning to Growl

Learning to Growl cover art
Overhead, the Albatross

The Last Mixed Tape reviews Learning to Growl, the much-anticipated debut album from Overhead, the Albatross. 

Time has been a factor in the making of Learning to Growl. Much has been made of how long it has taken Overhead, the Albatross to deliver their long-awaited debut album. But time, it seems, has done more than hold back the record’s release, it has shaped it.

The opening beeps of ‘Indie Rose’, almost serve to put the listener on hold. Overhead, the Albatross make us wait for Learning to Growl to begin. And as the song starts to slowly unfold so too does the scope of the album. You can hear the minutes, hours, days, years even, that have gone into the music. Everything is where it should be, nothing is rushed. All things are considered.

Crafted within an inch of its life, Learning to Growl exists in a world entirely of Overhead, the Albatross’ own making. Notes, rhythms and melodies seem to suspend then fall at will (see ‘Theme For A Promise’), while the band build layer upon layer of texture onto the record’s ambitious production. Tracks like ‘HBG’ almost shudder with harmony, as the sonic backdrop of Learning to Growl becomes more and more intense.

It would be easy in this case for the music to become over-considered and eventually weighted down by it all. ‘Big River Man’ puts these fears to waste. The sound of a group letting their own sound off the leash, Learning to Growl’s closing track is a show-off event albeit a well-earned one. In terms of musicianship and songwriting, this is kitchen-sink type stuff. Beats stop and start, guitars pulse and howl, strings weave and a choir soars, all propelling Overhead, the Albatross’ first L.P. to a satisfying end.

The running joke in the build-up to Learning to Growl’s release is how long it has taken Overhead, the Albatross to make it. However, this misses the point. Whether or not OTA could have or would have released the record sooner is inconsequential, they didn’t and because of this time began to become an essential ingredient.

You can hear it, not only in the large-scale production but also in the playing. These songs have lived long before the album, and the journey they and the band have been on is evident throughout Learning to Growl itself. Some records need immediate impact, others need to ferment, and time was on OTA’s side. Monumental.

Rating: 9/10

Learning to Growl by Overhead, the Albatross is out now.

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