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ODESZA’s fourth studio album, ‘The Last Goodbye,’ is an all-consuming excavation of the inner self [Album Review]

Featured photo: Alexander Babarikin.

At long last, ODESZA has finally satiated their fans’ thirst for new material. Five years after the release of their last studio album, A Moment Apart, the Grammy-nominated electronic outfit has released their fourth studio album, The Last Goodbye, via the Seattle duo’s imprint, Foreign Family Collective. It’s not a move that ODESZA takes lightly, having toured their junior album for nearly half a decade in lieu of wanting to push the creative boundaries of their signature sound.

The goal for members Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills was to give the world something new, yet familiar. What fans and critics got was a 13-track studio LP that remains true to the classic ODESZA sonic stamp, while venturing comfortably outside of their musical wheelhouse.

The newest album is preceded by six already-released singles, including the title track that caught fans by storm at the top of 2022, “Better Now,” with Portuguese singer MARO, “Love Letter” featuring The Knocks, “Behind The Sun,” “Wide Awake” featuring Canadian singer Charlie Houston, and “Light Of Day” with Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds. 

While these previously-released records certainly shined a light on what to expect from the pair’s senior album, it only provides a piece of the sonic narrative. When taken as a whole, all 50 minutes and 32 seconds, The Last Goodbye finds Mills and Knight at their most introspective.

ODESZA – Light Of Day ft. Ólafur Arnalds
Photo credit: Alexander Babarikin.

The best moments in The Last Goodbye come when ODESZA dials back the sheen and luster and give themselves room to reflect. As a matter of fact, it is the lyrically toned down tracks that speak the most on The Last Goodbye. Take the fourth selection on the LP, “Behind The Sun,” which harkens back to the duo’s expansive trap sound, as a testament to this fact. ODESZA shines when they allow the music to stand in for words as they build to slow release in their familiar way.

Inasmuch as The Last Goodbye represents the first ODESZA album in five years, don’t forget that Knight and Mills teamed with Australian producer Golden Features on a bleak lockdown album as Bronson. The 10-track LP perfectly encapsulated the darkness of the pandemic, touching on themes of finding the light in the darkest hour, human perseverance in the face of personal strife, and music as the penultimate escape from reality.

The Last Goodbye feels like a tug-and-pull between these same motifs. While harkening back to the nostalgia of the early days of Summer’s Gone (2012) and In Return (2014) with their beautiful harps and hopeful atmospheres, textured by bass subduction and druggy vocal samples. This is why, at least in the stylistic sense, The Last Goodbye is the perfect balance between the nostalgia of places past and the sonic spaces ODESZA has been coming into ever since. Evidenced in tracks that tug between the inner and the outer (e.g., “North Garden,” “All My Life”), the LP is as much a weary, post-COVID self-reflection album (e.g., “Light of Day”) as it is a return to the hopeful (e.g., “Healing Grid”).

Photo credit: Alexander Babarikin.

“Without those we love, those we’ve lost and everyone in between, this album wouldn’t exist. Time may continue to move forward but the imprint of those we’ve come to know will always echo through. The Last Goodbye is a reminder that there is no last goodbye.”

– ODESZA

The Last Goodbye once more reminds us that the human experience is as joyous as it is painful. At times hopeful, while at others hopeless, the LP is both gritty and soft, both bleak and wildly colorful, cinematic and overtly emotional, and perhaps most of all, a push-and-pull between darkness and light. ODESZA, for all intents and purposes, pushes their audiences into an all-consuming excavation of the inner self.

ODESZA will celebrate the album release next week with a trio of sold-out shows at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. Running into early October, with more tour extensions likely to follow, these amphitheater-style shows will feature supporting acts in Sylvan Esso, Elderbrook, ford., Ben Böhmer, and San Holo. The 27-date North American tour whose kickoff coincides with the new album’s release is a typically grandiose affair involving an estimated 11 semi-trucks worth of gear and a crew of 100.

Stream ODESZA’s The Last Goodbye, out now on Foreign Family Collective/Ninja Tune. Also, be sure to see if ODESZA comes to a city near you with their latest stadium-centric tour.

ODESZA – The Last Goodbye LP

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