Their first release as a full-fledged band instead of the studio project of Dean Tzenos, the Better EP finds Odonis Odonis flexing their newfound musical muscles. While "Intelligence," with its swaths of riptide guitars and noise-damaged melody, recalls the appealingly murky and mysterious surf-noise-gaze sound of their debut Hollandaze, it's an anomaly. Instead, the band tries on a number of sounds for size over the course of these songs, choosing a much more punk-tinged direction on "Robot Surfer," a thrashy workout that blasts away any remnants of their former lo-fi mystique, and then indulging in a bit of Cramps-like camp on "Flight Risk." Similarly, "She's a Death"'s raw edges and undeniable hooks evoke forefathers like the Violent Femmes and Pixies. Odonis Odonis seem pretty comfortable and convincing with whatever sound they choose, even if they're not always as distinctive as their debut. Things get more interesting on "Black Bones," an excursion into the band's darkest musical territory that's genuinely creepy despite -- or perhaps because of -- the chanted "Satan" refrain and boasts the kind of tension and release that can only be achieved with a full band lineup. Most intriguing of all is the title track, which combines sleek dance-punk underpinnings with a howl the likes of which hasn't been heard since the heyday of the Make-Up. It's kinetic, ferocious, and unlike anything else they've done before or on this EP. Scattered yet promising, Better offers a snapshot of Odonis Odonis in transition, with any number of directions (and effects pedals) at their feet.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares