Early Tuesday Morning, Los Angeles-based duo Olive White dropped their new album “Remember When I Met You?” The band is composed of vocalist Brandon Hines and lead instrumentalist, engineer and producer Justin Pommer. “Remember When I Met You?” features 10 songs, and is an album that draws inspiration from drugs and being lovesick. This duo paints a visual throughout the album’s entirety to leave its listeners hanging on with a blank canvas to form their own interpretation.
First is “Shark Riding,” a dark and pulsing track whose opening beats make one think of a predator steadily stalking its prey. Hines vocals fade in, lighter than the track creeping beneath it. He passionately sings about indifference, his voice starting and stopping over the track in a beautiful lyrical dance. The chorus soars, lyrically, musically and vocally, with Hines turning to a controlled falsetto, dreamy lyrics and an additional higher track to perfectly balance “Shark Riding’s” dark undercurrent. The falsetto endures for the rest of the song, as it details yearning for someone, even when that person has a negative effect on you.
The second track is “Never Sleep Again,” a decidedly more upbeat track that features traditional alternative drum beats and guitar riffs. Here Hines’ voice is at its most comfortable – not as deep as on “Shark Riding,” but not quite falsetto level either. Lyrically the song touches on drug abuse and staying in a negative relationship, and the chaos results from this pairing. The lyrical darkness and musical brightness contrast nicely, creating a song that is somehow pure and simple amid its lyrical complexity.
The following track “Steak” is also upbeat, with an opening guitar riff that sounds as though it should be blaring from someone’s speakers on a beach. This song has a beautifully funky and bass-heavy beat, inspiring one to dance, as the darker lyrics describe losing part of yourself to a mystery substance. The track is achingly self-aware while also unable to break from the hold the mystery substance has over it.
The next track is “To The End” featuring artist amber b. This song begins with a static-like beat that’s reminiscent of old video game soundtracks. Amber b begins by immediately singing the first chorus, her smooth voice echoing over the beat. She describes an unrequited love, her voice simultaneously nonchalant and yearning, hoping for some return in the feelings she’s giving. Hines has control of the verses and the bridge, singing ironically about not returning the emotions he’s been receiving (and more specifically, why he stopped returning and feeling these emotions). “To The End” is short, bittersweet and to the point.
The fifth song is “Scales” which begins immediately with a slightly disoriented sounding Hines singing about the way his feelings, thoughts and actions change with drugs, over an upbeat electro dance track. His voice evens out into silk after the first chorus, perfectly embodying the song’s title as the beat and the intensity of his voice change throughout the song. “Scales” is one of my personal favorites, in the way it so accurately and honestly portrays the ups and downs that come with drugs and its musical composition.
The second half of the album begins with “7 Up,” a synth-heavy track featuring Hines’ smoky vocals. The intensity belies the songs lyrics, which are again a raw look at substance abuse. The track tackles this view in a new way, however, with Hines seeming to take on the role of the drug and talking to the individual, his rough voice representing the dependent relationship that results and the way in which the substance takes control. Sonically, this song is light, the synths evening out and fading into the background, signaling the way all else – with the exception of the drug – mellows out.
The following song is “Alley Baby.” This track is significantly darker musically than any other, with a doom-sounding drumbeat, eerie saxophone and ghostly cello. As Hines’ vocals start, the track is joined by a repetitive and equally dark bass, with Hines’ voice being the only light spot in the song. I think that on this song Hines’ voice is at its best: comfortable, mesmerizing and full of emotion. Lyrically, this song is incredibly aware and scorned. The lyrics describe someone feeling slighted: essentially they feel as they knew everything there was to know about a lover, but this person didn’t believe them and return the same knowledge, respect and dedication. It perfectly portrays the intensity that comes with complicated relationships.
The eighth song is “Left On Orange,” a complete change from the darkness of “Alley Baby.” This song features the voices of both Pommer and Hines. Pommer’s higher voice expertly navigates the pre-choruses and chorus, while Hines controls the verses. The short constantly switches between the two voices, which sound and are a power duo, never leaving the listener behind as they sing with unabashed honesty and emotion.
The penultimate song is “More Out There.” The song features synth and contemplative drumbeats, underneath Pommer’s airy vocals. Lyrically, the song describes realizing a that a current relationship isn’t the reasons one is unable to love, and the simultaneous contentment and disappoint that accompanies this realization. Pommer’s drippy voice perfectly describes the isolation that comes with such a discovery, as one finds oneself alone on some level.
Finally is the outro poem “Diamonds (part one),” whose title, lyrics and musical composition make it the perfect closer. Beginning with a sound akin to a plane engine and an eerie keyboard-synth hybrid beat, Hines sings a short verse about missing a lost love. The song ends abruptly, a testament to its perfect composition. It sounds as though the engine sound (which has returned) has been cut short, leaving the space for more. With the title “Diamonds (part one),” the poem leaves open the possibility of a resolution, and thus, more music.
Overall, I give Olive White’s “Remember When I Met You?” a 10/10. As a huge fan of alternative pop music, this band and album perfectly mix both. Hines and Pommer show that they have expert control over their musical composition as well as their very different but equally beautiful and powerful voices on standout tracks like “Scales” and “Left On Orange.” I’m also a fan of songs that are split into two or will eventually have companion songs, so the closer song is the perfect taste of more music to come.
TRACKS TO LISTEN TO: Shark Riding, Scales, Alley Baby, Left On Orange • olive-white.com