Omni at YES, Manchester, 27 November 2019, from £11.50 - Book now
There’s no shortage of bands picking up where the originators of post-punk left off. Few are doing so with as much elegance as Omni.
Jagged guitars, barbed basslines and jolting beats; the Atlanta trio’s sound is a sculpture of shards. Collaging their influences – Talking Heads, Television, Wire – the band shot out of the blocks with 2016’s energetic Deluxe. This retro-futurist manifesto made unlikely earworms out of jitters and spasms, with Frankie Boyles’ twangy art pop guitars burrowing deep into the memory. Philip Frobos’ deadpan vocals, meanwhile, drift through the eye of the storm in languid, Jonathan Richman-esque style, mooring the chaos.
Jagged guitars, barbed basslines and jolting beats; Omni’s sound is a sculpture of shards
2017’s Multi-task dialed up the dissonance. “I’m drenched in sweat, and you can bet // You can bet I’m already there”, croons Frobos in the opening tune, ‘Southbound Station’. This sets the tone of an album that’s so flooded with anxious urgency that only one of its 11 songs reaches beyond the three-minute mark. There are no introductions – each tune gets to its main point within seconds, the fat trimmed to an obsessive degree. It’s what The Strokes’ early albums might have sounded like, had Casablancas and co not opted to so diligently round their edges.
Fast-forward to 2019, and the trio have just dropped a tight-as-hell new album, Networker – their first for Sub Pop. Taking lyrical aim at (anti)social media and 9-5 career concerns, it’s powered by the same kinetic energy as its predecessors, but there’s more light and shade now – the frantic tracks are broken up with slightly more spacious ones. They’ve also widened their sonic palate, with piano, organ and synths popping up often. The hip-swinging lead single ‘Courtesy Call’ has to be their best tune yet. Frankie Broyles’ guitar lines are sharper than ever, locked into Chris Lonker’s agit-funk grooves in a way that’s totally compelling. There’s a new catchiness to Frobos’ vocal melodies, too, which lifts the energy of the whole ensemble.
Omni are in that exciting phase of graduating to the proverbial ‘next level’. Don’t miss the likely short-lived chance to catch them on a small stage: The Pink Room in YES on the 27th of November.