Oliver Tank: “OT” Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com

The first full length album from Oliver Tank is a stunning collection of modern R&B – widescreen beats and soundscapes paired with Tank’s haunting and droning vocals. On OT, the songwriter and producer presents a more stretched out variant of the ethereal pop one rendered on his past EP Dreams and the mini-album Slow Motion Music, the achingly beautiful melodies rising above the waves of controlled elegance. The record sounds like a friendly and familiar blend of pop and contemplative rhythm and blues without sounding totally unoriginal.

Many of the tracks on the record are suggestive of master modern soul groomers How to Dress Well and Perfume Genius. Tank’s beautifully processed vocals glide through the mix and guides the listener through both the stratosphere and the black ocean. Sonically, Frank Ocean is also reminiscent as some of the most contemplative tracks sound like a mix of Channel Orange and Blonde. This can be heard on the misty and smoke filled “High with You” and the more upbeat, soulful “Silhouette”.

There are also some brutally honest lyrics on the album: on the terrific opening track “Circles” Tank moans “Take it slow/I go around in circles”: a lyric that brings to mind the uncertainty of being in a new relationship and the struggles of indecision. Although at many times Tank’s vocals and words are blurred into (or out by) the mix of lethargic noise, there are numerous lyrics that strike to the core. The album features two duets with the elegant vocals of Fawn Myers: “Lost” and “Falling”. On the former track she laments “Ohh, Oliver where have you been”, giving an alternative perspective to Tank’s sense of overwhelming emotion. On the lo-fi, piano driven “Wassup”, Tank sings “I call my friends/Wassup/I’m bored, I can’t stay home again”. In music that sounds inherently lonely, Tank yearns for a sense of social stability. On “Falling” the duo really make the song sound like a duet with its multi-voiced intro. “I’m sure you know by now/I’m into you for calling me out/It’s dragging me further/I need to get away somehow”, is how they describe the pains of pure hearts.

Sonically, the standouts on the record are its lead single “Swerve”, where Tank is both looking down through the atmosphere towards light yet plunging into complete darkness. Both “High With You” and “Silhouette” sound very in debt to the new-soul of the group Rhye, with Tank’s sensual tenor hanging ghostly in the air over the lush layers of harps and mellow pads. Surely, this is a release that will keep fans of the genre satisfies throughout many listens, as Oliver Tank is proving himself to be a bright new voice is electronic and R&B.