Oro Swimming Hour - Pterodactyl (Album Review)

Bristol-based musicians Oliver Wilde and Nicholas Stevenson make up the charmingly named indie-folk project Oro Swimming Hour. Following Penrose Winoa (2017) and Lossy (2019), their third album, Pterodactyl, is a cocktail of emo-folk-driven sentiments and personable songwriting that manages to warm the heart as it slays. While lo-fi luminaries Sebadoh and Elliot Smith, as well as the emotion-heavy indie of contemporary Alex G, are echoed in Oro Swimming Hour's honeyed melodies and innocent recordings, the duo add genuine idiosyncrasies to their summery and youthful songs with a hammering home of simple yet effective musical phrases and proclivity for the weird. 

The tracks here often fold in odd sounds buried under campfire acoustic folk, sweeping orchestral passages, and colourful lyrics ("the mammoth and the candlestick"). As a result, it doesn't take long for these often-short songs to become familiar and cosy, thanks in no small part to recurring themes (both melodic and contextual) and an over-arching inclination towards textured mixes more interesting than professional.

When Oro Swimming Hour focus their efforts on catchy melodies tinged with complex emotion, like on the fantastically fresh "Jim Jam Jum", "Bruise", and "Verge", the effects are more potent than passive and hazy numbers like "Dog" and "Crocodile", which water down the overall impact of the album. Yet even if the 50-minute run time stretches the immediacy thin, with some tracks ("Cedars of Lebanon", "Spirit Cabinet") warranting a stricter editorial hand, there is a cache of delight to be found throughout the 20 songs-cum-sonic experiments.  

With its warm and nostalgic 4-track cassette recorded sound, playful musical ideas, and sweet songwriting, Pterodactyl sounds like it was put into a time capsule in 1994, unearthed in the present day, and run through modern mixing techniques to produce an indelible and imaginative collection of freak-folk wonder.