Hitting us with a lot of tonality that most bands would be too intimidated to work with, The One Eighties’ “Dead Star Light” doesn’t let us get comfortable with its forward strut before unleashing a complicated deluge of warmth that can seemingly destroy that gets in its path. In this track, and all of those found on the new album Minefields, The One Eighties are meshing country, indie rock, alternative pop, and a whole lot of psychedelia with an excitement I hadn’t heard much of before this summer, and while I was only somewhat familiar with their sound before, this most recent offering has made me a legitimate fan of their captivating originality.
The tracklist here is very tight and feels a lot leaner and meaner than it is. “Two Jet Planes,” the title track, and “Nightmare, Baby,” the trio of songs that start us off in Minefields, blow into us like a juggernaut of bucolic postmodernity only to lead us into something a bit more illustrative of the band’s greater depth of personality in “Fools Gold” and, later, the psychedelic “No King,” but the flow is uninterrupted and not lacking in substance at all whatsoever.
In “Cinnamon” and “Hold Back the Tide,” vocals are much more than a melodic component of the music; truth be told, they’re on a grander level than the percussion in a couple of key junctures with regard to creating structure behind the rhythm. Every part of this record is well-mixed, and though there are some patches, particularly towards the conclusion, that run a little more towards the outwardly surreal than necessary, I wouldn’t deem any of the compositions on Minefields as being unworthy of the company they’re in here at all.
In comparison to some of the similar efforts I’ve been hearing from the experimental underground as of late, this master mix is very generous with the headier details that give “Dead Star Light,” the concluding “Trail,” and “Fools Gold” their one of a kind finish, and I have a feeling The One Eighties designed this aspect of their new record with audiophiles in mind over everyone else. There’s no pandering to the snobs in the alternative music community in this record, but there’s also no denying the fact that uniting a pair of tracks like the boldly melodic “Fever Dream” and ass-kicking pop underscoring the tone in “Nightmare, Baby” on the same LP is bound to get the attention of critics and hardcore music fans alike.
It’s not tailored towards the country scene or the indie rock crowd specifically, but for both demographics and everyone in between The One Eighties’ Minefields can and should be called an instant classic in 2023. The purist attitudes of the preceding generation of crossover bands and singer/songwriters the same is becoming a thing of the past, while taking the concepts forged by those artists to the next level of experimentalism is something that might make just a little more sense to this emerging era, and The One Eighties aren’t relenting from their mission of doing as much here.