Since forming in 2012, Seattle-based duo ODESZA quickly became one of the most popular, influential indie electronic acts in America. By the time they made their Counter Records debut in 2014, with their second album In Return, they had already become a staple at music festivals, and their headlining gigs were selling out left and right. Their music typically consists of warm, glitchy chillwave beats and choppy, pitch-shifted vocals, as well as an intriguing usage of exotic-sounding acoustic instruments, all fine-tuned for maximum emotional impact. ODESZA may not have invented any of the ingredients of their sound, but their glossy, dreamy brand has become one of the most distinctive of its kind, and their presence on the scene looms large -- it's hard to browse SoundCloud without hitting a bedroom producer imitating them, or remixing one of their tunes. Following the success of In Return, which topped Billboard's Electronic Albums chart and was given the Deluxe Edition treatment, ODESZA returned in 2017 with A Moment Apart, their third consecutive album to be released in early September. As with In Return, the duo continue to develop their songwriting skills, bringing in a growing number of guest vocalists to clarify the sentiments expressed with their music. ODESZA never seem to tire of cutting up vocal samples into earworm hooks, and they don't need to stop, because they're masters of the art form, and their vocal manipulations are highly expressive. When their songs do have lyrics, they're just as effective, and a bit more radio-friendly. "Higher Ground" appears early on, with featured vocalist Naomi Wild pining for affection and begging for a deeper love. The song is an immediate highlight, and easily this album's equivalent of "Say My Name," the ecstatic hit single from In Return. As A Moment Apart unfolds, ODESZA recruit bigger guest names, such as retro-soul singer Leon Bridges and Russian-American indie folk star Regina Spektor. These songs end up sounding a lot closer to their respective featured artists, although ODESZA make their presence felt through cinematic string sweeps and their signature vocal edits. Songs like Spektor's "Just a Memory" and album closer "Corners of the Earth" (featuring Ry X) reveal ODESZA's fondness for big, dramatic ballads, and the album has a bit of a darker tone than their prior work, sometimes tipping their usual bittersweetness into sadness. Of course, this is balanced by the presence of punchy, joyous songs like "La Ciudad" and "Show Me." A Moment Apart is a further expansion of the ODESZA empire, and the duo's most ambitious, widescreen work yet.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson