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Multi-Task Brendan Telford , September 25th, 2017 15:40

On their second album, Omni take their influences and use them all at once - and it works, mostly.

Atlanta trio Omni release Multi-Task barely a year after their debut, Deluxe. That album was a dissonant bliss bomb, a discharge of energy and direction that befits the gilt-edged sharpness of Ought or Protomartyr but without the gurning nihilism, that matches the smartarse pop of Parquet Courts without intellectualising everything. It made an impression. Multi-Task doesn’t rock the boat too much; if anything it is more streamlined, less abrasive, ready to be swallowed whole.

It harks further back, to post punk and art rock, and there's a clue in title. The trio take the influences that colour their sound and use them all at once, and for the majority of the album it works. Listen to the 1978-era Wire-esque intensity and echoed, faux vintage production stylings throughout, specifically on the excellent ‘First Degree’. ‘Equestrian’ has a Roxy Music-meets-peak-Strokes flamboyance, then when the hi-hat canter hits the fore it becomes more of a devilish Devo shimmy. The Tera Melos finger-pick intensity from Frankie Broyles that opens ‘Choke’ slows down to a Television chord cadence. ‘Tuxedo Blues’ pins down the metallic accuracy and agitated tension of Women before throwing it into a quirky spin cycle.

What Omni do, they do with extreme proficiency, shorn of all fat and brine and leaving only the most succulent, superlative cuts. Take ‘Supermoon’, a song that manages to jump genres and time frames, a fidgeting, squirming, uber-confident sprite that's all over in two-and-a-half minutes. Only closer ‘Type’ breaks the three-minute barrier (and then by a paltry two seconds), and it's the track that sticks most closely to the influential blueprint – this could easily be a more carefree Verlaine/Hell saunter.

So why am I nonplussed? Every reference I've made here is to artists I love and admire. Multi-Task is a good listen – I've had it on repeat for weeks, and the frenetic opening of ‘Southbound Station’ has soundtracked many a morning trudge. There is no doubt that these songs would resonate in a live capacity, and likely beat the Ought or Protomartyr or Parquet Courts for adroit efficacy and ardent frivolity. But it isn’t enough to tip what is a good album towards the great. Maybe it's the lack of a killer hook. Maybe those ghosts of the greats roam too freely across the album. Maybe it’s just me. I am left stuck between loving Multi-task and wanting much more.