Indie/Indie Rock Reviews

Review: Oscar Lang – Hand Over Your Head

Who the f*ck is Oscar Lang? Well someone you’re bound to wanna know by the end of this. The twenty year old Londoner has been making music since he was eleven, but properly started writing under the alias ‘Pig’ in 2016, and since then has been making quality compositions that you may already know of. Lang met fellow artist Beabadoobee through a mutual friend and started working on tracks together, so far as producing her work up until her second EP, all whilst recording and producing his own work, so rest assured, the guy seems to know what he’s doing, in and out of the studio. 

Previously calling his music the product of rolling “Mac DeMarco, John Lennon and the Wii shop channel music into a ball and putting it inside Kevin Parker’s butthole.” Which is a fair summary really. His earlier work definitely gives off the indie vibes of Mac DeMarco, the almost gruffness and brutality of some of his lyrics, but fine tuned to sparkly guitars and thick synths, all drenched in halls of reverb that make you almost transcend into a different reality. The psychedelic influence of Kevin Parker has definitely been noticeable throughout his discography. But today comes the release of his new EP, Hand Over Your Head and is the biggest change to his sound since he started releasing music 4 years ago. We were treated to the rougher sounding Apple Juice back in July, and it was the perfect way to introduce a shift in sound to his audience. Not a complete change in atmosphere by any means, but enough of a change to feel like you’ve travelled someplace else when looking back to his earlier work. There sounds like there’s a bit more anger and a lack of patience amongst this record, there’s no waiting around, Lang wants to get moving, and having to spend most of your year quarantined it’s really not the most outrageous feeling to have when everything seems to be crumbling around you. 

Next we got the similarly more rocky racket Get Out, a very obvious commentary on the effects of being trapped indoors for so long, and the extent of the heavy toll it takes on your mental health. But equally it’s something relatable to introverts anywhere, not just a lockdown lullaby. Most of us go through anxious phases where we don’t go out and it feeds into a never ending spiral of worry, so Lang really knows how to nail a tune down to some relatable lyrics that’s for sure. The soundscape was slightly more Oscar Lang than the likes of Apple Juice but still showcasing the newer and dirtier vibe we were delighted with Apple Juice.

But with the release of the entire EP we can really get down and appreciate the nitty gritty of the new sound. Imagine Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but a more polished sound with the prevalent issues that our generation faces written all over it. It kicks off with Wake Up, a ticking clock, birds tweeting and strange noises all leading to the climax of an alarm going off transitioning smoothly into Apple Juice. Already you get a vibe for the sensory overload that is yet to treat your ears, similarly to the feeling of waking up and struggling to keep your eyes open. After being greeted by tracks 2 and 3 which are the singles we’ve already heard, we get Drinking Wine, a fast boom, that starts off with a more traditional intro to an Oscar Lang song, almost sounding like a the type of track you’d hear on Overthunk, but resurrected with the angstier production of Hand Over Your Head. Three tracks in and already the new vibe is something you can almost taste, the basslines with so much more tone, the drums that pop out so much more, Lang manages to create this feeling of adrenaline that zooms by, you almost forget where you are as so much happens.

We’re then greeted by I Feel Good, which starts off slow almost like after a morning of chaos where you finally manage to catch a break to take a deep breath, before nipping back into the second half of the song, where the rockier side of Lang overflows, like a Miles Kane or Oasis song, definitely one that’ll start a few mosh pits when we can all get back to gigging. It’s like the busyness from the start of your morning is no longer out of hand, and you’re starting to take control. The depth of the distorted guitars, with a brit-pop sounding solo that just makes you want to kick the air, it’s truly something wonderful here. 

Any longtime fans will be delighted to hear Velvet Dreams, originally released only on Lang’s Soundcloud a couple years ago, which has been produced and shaped up to be a stoner’s serenade. Being an older song, it’s definitely more of a traditional Oscar Lang sound, which makes you start to question the reality you’re in, because the psychedelic soundscape is absolutely breathtaking, it’s definitely one to gaze up at the stars whilst you listen. Being the EP’s ‘slow song’ it completely sticks out, but not like a sore thumb, but more like when you spot that someone in the crowd that makes your whole world stop spinning, as everything but them becomes meaningless. After that extraordinary experience, we come to the EP’s end with Outro, the outro of the record. A short descent back to reality that’s almost a punishment really, just as the high of Velvet Dreams starts to fade away, we’re at the end and you just desire so much more, but thankfully there is much more where that came from. 

From the adrenaline filled Apple Juice to the ethereal polyphonic textures of Velvet Dreams, Lang creates a euphoric atmosphere that’s easy to love, yet hard to get over. Some of his best work yet, and I absolutely can’t wait to hear more from the loveable lad. I’d give you the top tracks but that’d be unfair, they’re all beautiful. Just go listen to the whole EP and see for yourself, it deserves a listen all the way through, it’s the best way to experience it. 

I highly recommend you work your way through Lang’s entire discography on your favourite streaming service, and when you’re done check out his Soundcloud, because there’s loads more of his work that feels like you’ve discovered an Easter Egg in one of your favourite games. It seriously shows off the guy’s talent, and from working on music from such a young age. At only twenty years old, he’s not only a fantastic songwriter, but also a profound producer that I genuinely think will blow up and go down in history.