OU – 蘇醒 II: Frailty (Album Review)

Review of the new album from OU, 蘇醒 II: Frailty co-produced and mixed by Devin Townsend

Every now and again, you listen to an album that makes you go, “What did I just listen to?”. It doesn’t happen often to me, but it most certainly happened to me when I listened to the new album from Chinese group OU. Entitled “II: Frailty”, this album is a followup to their debut album that released back in 2022.

I hadn’t heard of OU prior to reviewing this album, so I listened to this album with a very fresh set of ears. Certainly, the vocals of lead vocalist Lynn Wu are the star of the show here. Her vocals are gorgeous on their own, and simply magical when they get processed/layered as they do on occasion. As a Western listener, it’s almost de rigor that foreign bands sing in English, so to hear a band stick to their native language is refreshing, even at the expense of missing out on a sing along chorus, or lyrics to study. Certainly, by having the songs sung fully in Chinese phonetically adds a sort of texture or atmosphere that is far different than most things out there within the English world.

Leading off with “Frailty” gives a fairly good overview of what to expect on the album. The song starts off with a bit of a dreamy piano riff, before shifting back and forth between ambient ethereal melodies, and then bouncing to djent or doom metal style riffs, with blast beats thrown in for good measure. The next track, “Purge” features the one and only Devin Townsend doing guest vocals. It’s simply a wild track, with Wu’s vocals being the perfect match and foil for Devin. “Ocean” leans in a far more synth-heavy direction with a super catchy chorus. “Capture and Elongate” settles into groovy quiet verses before exploding to wailing choruses.

I found “Spirit Broken” to be one of the most beautiful and melodic songs on the entire album, and Lynn’s voice absolutely shines here. “YYDS” serves as a mostly instrumental track with relatively minimal vocal tracks, those of which serve as mostly background effects. The lack of full vocals certainly made the track less interesting than other songs on the album. The closing track, “Recall”, is a wonderfully oddball track, featuring vocal loops recalled from the opening track against shifting rhythmic time signatures.

There are some quite excellent tracks on this record, and they’re certainly worth seeking out, especially “Purge”, “Capture and Elongate” and “Recall”. Fans of bands such as Sleep Token, or Polyphia might in particular want to give this album a listen, as I personally feel that it feels at home with that newer style.

If I can express one criticism about this album, it’s that as much as the jarring shifts in tone elevate it, it also leads to a bit of schizophrenia in the listening experience. And certainly, the vocals are so critical to this album, that any sort of absence of them is quite noticeable. It took me several listens to get into the album, but for those willing to give it the extra time and attention, I think they’ll be rewarded with one of the year’s most unique releases.

Released on April 26th, 2024 on InsideOutMusic


蘇醒II: Frailty Tracklist:
1. 蘇醒 Frailty
2. 淨化 Purge
3. 海 Ocean
4. 血液 Redemption
5. 衍生 Capture and Elongate (Serenity)
6. 破魂 Spirit Broken
7. 歪歪地愛 yyds
8. 輪迴 Reborn
9. 念 Recall

OU lineup:
Lynn Wu – Vocals
Jing Zhang – Guitars
Chris Cui – Bass
Anthony Vanacore – Drums

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