Many fans of southern California alt-rockers Ozma were disappointed by the band's last album, considering Spending Time on the Borderline a weak-willed attempt to break into the new wave revival. Coming nearly four years and one breakup and re-formation later, Pasadena reverts to the straightforward indie pop of Ozma's earlier material; it even features a re-recording of one of the previous album's better songs, "Eponine," in apparent atonement. These 11 songs are as crisp and bouncy as the best material on Rock and Roll Part Three, with a newfound lyrical maturity and a more wide-screen sound that better incorporates the synthesizer parts that started to overwhelm the rest of the band on Spending Time on the Borderline. (See "Incarnation Blues.") The album's true highlight is the simply outstanding "Heartache Vs. Heartbreak," a dramatic, Electric Light Orchestra-influenced duet between lead singer Daniel Brummel and guest star Rachel Haden that sounds like a great lost New Pornographers single; if she'll have them, Ozma should consider asking Haden to join the band permanently. Surprisingly considering the indifference towards their last album, Ozma have returned to active duty with perhaps the strongest work of their careers.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason