Let's get this out of the way from the start - O.Children sound very like The National. Matt Berninger and his gang cast a long shadow over everything on Apnea, the second album from this London based outfit. Interestingly enough, O.Children rose from the ashes of Bono must Die, a band that rapidly dissolved following a lawsuit from the great man himself. Their new, less controversial moniker is taken from the title of a Nick Cave song, and while his influence can be heard on everything here, they will struggle to shake off The National comparisons following this release.
If you can get past all this, Apnea is actually an enjoyable listen and it is not difficult to envisage them making a mark with their stylised version of doom rock lite. Opening track 'Holy Wood' gets things off to a promising start -Interpol style guitars give way to singer Tobi O'Kandi's rich, portentous voice and the whole thing chugs along nicely in its own generically doomy way. 'The Realest' ramps up the intensity; momentarily, O.Children sound like they might just cut loose before slipping back into a disappointingly generic groove. Along the way, there are some unfortunate missteps - 'PT Cruiser' sounds like it bullied its way on to this record and veers dangerously close to cock rock territory while the insipid 'Oceanside' is weak and watery. They claw back some momentum with 'Swim' which has the swagger of a young Nick Cave in his pomp. Closing track 'Chimera' is O.Children at their very best and perhaps shines a light on where this band needs to go and how to get there.
Apnea is the sound of a band not yet ready to leave the comfort zone, a band still in thrall to their obvious influences. When they find their own voice, they might just be one to watch.
Review by Paul Page