Only A Visitor- Decay (Album Review)
Music holds a special place in our hearts because it can transport you to many worlds and emotions instantly. My first exposure to Vancouver-based Art Pop group, Only a Visitor was through their track ‘What Does Waiting Mean'. Immediately, I felt a warmth crawl throughout my body, almost as if something or someone was lifting me off the ground, comforting me, and telling me I don’t have to know the meaning of everything to be happy. It was the first time in a long time that a song affected me as profoundly as the first track off of Decay, and it was as if it just snuck up on me. There is a duality to Decay that is very profound to me, on one hand, everything feels as perfect as any human can achieve, with its harmonies that feel angelic and delicately placed, almost like it wasn’t created on this earth. Yet, it feels as if the main concept throughout the tracks is about humanity and what makes us special and unique as humans. Decay is one of those albums that will sneak up on you with its fragile perfection upon each listen and etch its way into your mind throughout the process.
There’s a certain amount of unpredictability within the songs that make this album worth coming back to time and time again. The album features three distinct voices that show their strength throughout the album, but they can come together with so many elegant harmonies throughout. The instrumentation seems quite simple throughout, featuring the tones of a piano that helps to propel the voices even further into the listener’s mind. The unpredictableness comes to play within the compositional shifts throughout the vocal harmonies. Verses throughout the tracks can feel very predictable at one moment, and the next moment, the band starts to get a little jazzy with their vocal arrangements leading up to choruses, making this album feel very other-worldly. There is a lot of thought put into the placement of the three voices on this album, but the main structure here is sparse beginnings with a light, yet effective piano arrangement featuring one of the voices with hauntingly beautiful, yet comforting delivery, layered with a little more structure featuring the two other voices as backing vocals, sometimes predictable, sometimes very inventively leading into the chorus. The chorus is typically where the three voices join in their harmony, giving each track the warmth and resolution that it deserves. The structure is effective, and not something the group always sticks to, keeping that
unpredictability intact on the album.
Decay, lyrically, seems to be an album concerned about the human experience. Tracks can be about a wide arrange of things, layered with plenty of metaphors, mostly coming to us by way of plants and nature and the conditions needed to grow such things (the sun comes up quite a bit throughout). One of the most impactful tracks lyrically that can encapsulate the beauty, yet critical thoughtfulness of what makes us human would have to be the track ‘Degree By Degree’. The song starts with seeds growing, and the wonder that growth is, yet, as we get deeper into the track, there are lyrics about what is left behind, the pod that the seed once came from. This acts as a perfect metaphor for our own lives, the more we grow, the more experiences we have, and the more that we forget about vital foundations of our identity. As we grow, we throw away people that once meant so much to us, hobbies that once kept us sane, and thoughts that kept us grounded. That’s the beauty of Decay, its songs are so full of curiosity and wonderment towards the human experience, it’s a group of people trying to figure out what we are here on this earth to do. Is it to create art, to be stewards of the land, or are we all here for no reason at all?
Not many things can take my breath away anymore like Only A Visitor’s latest album does. There's a certain quality to it that makes it feel complex yet approachable, rewarding, and beautiful at the same time. Decay came to me at a time in my life when I thought every release blended together. When I listened to Decay, it caught me dead in my tracks upon my first listen. It’s the type of album that is laid out expertly, leaving the listener with goosebumps and the desire to listen to it endlessly, becoming more enchanted with it throughout each listen. The Vancouver group is one of the most talented crews I have had the pleasure of being introduced to recently, and I already know that it will be an album that stays with me throughout the rest of the year.
Favorite tracks: What Does Waiting Mean, Fraud of Finery, A Whole of a Life
Listen to 'What Does Waiting Mean', from Only A Visitor's album, Decay, below. The album is available for purchase on CD, Vinyl, Cassette, and MP3 here.