Owen Meany’s Batting Stance, Halifax’s self-described literary folk outfit and project of ‘Daniel Walker and his friends’, have released a self-titled debut, with enough heft to secure them as the Maritimes’ newest musical darlings. Clever, catchy, and charming, Owen Meany’s Batting Stance features an excellent partnership of brilliant lyricism and a three-part combination of acoustic guitar, drums and bass with the occasional contribution of the keyboard.
The album opens with ‘Dissonance’, the band’s first single. With a solid beat and a great acoustic sound mixed with some stellar keyboard work, Owen Meany’s Batting Stance give us a strong start. The track is lyrically dense, wordy to the extreme, littered with pop culture references, surreal imagery, and hints and glimpses of a coming-of-age tale. Much like the rest of the album, the lyrical complexity of the song benefits from repeated listens to grasp its full extent, which might have been bothersome if the music didn’t compel you to listen to it again anyways through sheer quality.
Every track on the album stands out in its own regard. ‘Charlotte’s Gossamer Awaits’ is a short but poetic piece that flirts between a serene acoustic and upbeat electronic sound. ‘The Goose But More the Gaggle’ is a passionate self-aware piece addressing society’s overglorification of musicians with a bluntness that drives home the frustration (“It happens when an ass pick up an instrument and we excuse their outburst actions, anything they’ve ever gone and done” and “You don’t excuse a person because they play a goddamn instrument”). Matt Mays is channeled in ‘Growth Spurts’, a track layered with acoustic chill and confessional lyrics, while ‘Winter Wednesdays’, the album’s closing track, features droning synthesizers that perfectly capture the mid-February snow day malaise.
Perhaps the most memorable track from the album, ‘Pop Odyssey: The First Person Narrative of a Bottle of Cola at a House Party’ provides a quirky but compelling take on the commonplace, giving the account of a soft drink. In what sounds like a concept drummed up by The Burning Hell’s Mathias Kom and pitched to Conor Oberst, the song juxtaposes the beverage’s dual nature to an almost tragic extent for such a subject, highlighting its role as a medium of either innocent childhood joy or drunken debauchery.
Musically, the influence of the Mountain Goats is so strong that it’s even directly addressed in the opening track, and they’ve certainly learned a few lessons from The Burning Hell (as should we all), but influences alone would mean nothing if not for the band’s considerable talent, and Owen Meany’s Batting Stance certainly delivers. Though their debut falls short in terms of runtime, just below the 20 minute mark, the song are cleverly written, well played, and excellently produces, and are sure to leave an impact with what time they take. Now that it’s been shown just what Owen Meany’s Batting Stance can do, it’s only a given that we’ll be waiting eagerly for what comes next.