Published Nov 28, 2019Welcome to the utopian metropolis of Somewhere City, a place where the drive-thru windows are open all night and Dr. Pepper flows from fountains, where there's an amusement park and a Nicktoons feed playing Danny Phantom 24/7. It sounds like it's for children, but really it's for anyone who's sick of being grown up. Hell, Somewhere City might even look completely different to you. What it offers, ultimately, is "eternal youth and the promise of escape."
This is the concept behind the debut album by Origami Angel, a little duo just emerging from the Washington metropolitan area. It's all dreamed up with tongue firmly in cheek, yet with an endearing enthusiasm when it comes to what it all means — making it a perfect member of the growing club of schmaltzy fourth-wave emo, alongside close comparables like the Hotelier, Modern Baseball, Tiny Moving Parts and the lesser-known Dowsing.
"Welcome to…" opens with a riff that has the warm familiarity of American Football, and the band settle into a sound that fits somewhere between Holy Ghost and Home, Like Noplace Is There. But by the time you reach "666 Flags," you'll be on a hell of a ride — one that features Steve Vai guitar acrobatics, rapidfire pop punk, Beach Boys harmonies and thrash blast beats. As the record unfolds, there are bits of math rock, pop, ska, hardcore and beatboxing.
Even in all its wackiness, Somewhere City is an album that revels in the youthful, vibrant and fantastical as an antidote to the pressures of living, and it's more than compelling enough to take you with it. "24 Hr Drive-Thru" and "Doctor Whomst" are infectiously silly, but then there is anger in "Say Less," earnestness in "Escape Rope," romance in "Skeleton Key" and encouragement in "Find Your Throne." In "The Title Track," you're presented with the record's central theme: "Sometimes you need somewhere else to go / Somewhere that nobody can find you … The city's never far away, I'm telling you / The secret is it's in your brain."
In Origami Angel's imagined universe, happiness is a physical space. In reality, of course, it's (mostly) a mental space — and one that can be hard to find. But in acknowledging abstract sources of anxiety and combating them with tangible sources of youthful joy, Somewhere City becomes both an imaginary fantasyland and a real-world state of mind. It's a place in your consciousness where you can go to find peace and quiet, even if you're bound to be confronted by the unwelcome realization that you'll have to leave it and face the real world.
So there's a sadness that hangs over "The Air Up Here," but it's a sadness that feels good and earned. In that closing tune, the band combines the hooks from previous songs into a medley, à la The Greatest Generation, before bringing the chorus from the opener back around for a huge, climactic and satisfying finale. With an emotional fervour that reaches for the rafters, it's melancholy, gleeful, nostalgic and hopeful all at once. (Chatterbot)