Irish singer/songwriter Evan O’Malley has, over the last two years, carved out his own niche in the modern music scene without surrendering his sense of self. This is an accomplishment in any endeavor. O’Malley has discovered a method of creating through his project Martian Subculture that allows him to give full vent to his imaginative powers while still crafting songs conforming to a familiar shape and sound. Too many modern music artists retreat into the past attempting to mine new veins of variation from long-since stripped out artistic deposits and end up sounding like talented mimics but nothing more. O’Malley, instead, re-envisions time tested instrumentation and structures in such a way he emerges with something palpably personal rather than a faint echo of once fresh sounds. His latest single “All Emotions Are Equal” is an excellent example of that.
Listeners will recognize many aspects of O’Malley’s songcraft and vocals. There’s a definite vocal melody running throughout the near three minute running time of “All Emotions Are Equal” and he proves himself capable of bringing an array of emotions to bear that, in a stroke of perhaps unconsciousness cleverness, gives lie to the song’s title. He isn’t a traditional singer by any stretch of the imagination and doesn’t possess muscular pipes capable of blowing out your speakers, but he is never anything less than convincing. I believe each word he sings and hear the commitment in his phrasing.
The lyrics are much like earlier releases from Martian Subculture – evocative, but never grounded in a fully concrete reality. He continues adopting the same introspective tone defining previous tracks as well and conveys his message with lean attention that doesn’t mince words or come off as overwrought. The writing is never ornamental, but it is here to serve the musical arrangement rather than intended to stand alone as poetry set to music. No one can deny his conversational eloquence however.
The track has a quivering and unsettled guitar sound manipulated by the multi-effect pedals that are often among the first building blocks for his songs. He takes a more conventional approach to the drumming, however, and it provides reliable bedrock for the track from the beginning. The rhythm section is one of the song’s musical highlights as fluid bass snakes in perfect rhythmic synchronization with the beat to create a deep and memorable groove. There are no instrumental showcases built into the song – everything here is functional rather than providing adornment and it is refreshing for me to hear a musician and songwriter who feels like he has nothing to prove in that area.
After four EPs and a few standalone singles, it is hard to hear this song and not come away thinking Evan O’Malley and his Martian Subculture project are standing on the cusp of a larger breakthrough. He seems to gather more confidence with each new release and his songwriting powers have exponentially grown since the project’s first release in 2017. “All Emotions Are Equal” proves, if nothing else, that not all indie music is equal – Martian Subculture is moving further and further away from safer and sedate practitioners of popular music. Let’s enjoy the journey.
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