Album Review: OSEES A Foul Form

It probably goes without saying, but when you’re a band about to drop its staggering 27th album—as Osees did last week with the release of A Foul Form—it takes a lot of talent, determination, and trust among band members to see things through to the end. Ultimately, a band like that needs a leader. Fortunately for Osees, they have such a leader in group mastermind John Dwyer. Dwyer has been at the helm of the psychedelic scum punk/crossover outfit since its inception and distributes the band’s work through his own Castle Face record label.

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An ominous fuzz hangs over A Foul Form from beginning to end, like an irritated hornet going in for the sting. Lyrically, Dwyer strips away the trusted psychedelic cosplay from his lyrics, favoring a more direct prose to offer stiff evaluation on the swill human beings surf through daily: police brutality (“Perm Act“), capitalistic psychosis, political violence against citizens. Even the album cover of A Foul Form, a skull with lonely eyeballs against a dirty black canvas, the perfect effigy for a society on a dead end path—is the first OSees record in a while to not feature a creature scene pulled out of the Tolkien or Martin world. As a result, Dwyer’s intent with this Osees album is what sets it apart from the 26 prior records, prolific as they are.

There is never a moment on A Foul Form when John Dwyer is not barking furiously, to wit, there is nothing tender about the album. It’s a full-on assault with songs called “Fucking Kill Me” and “Too Late For Suicide.” What else would you expect an atomic rocket colliding with your brain to sound like? And just the inference of an overtly angry Osees record is intimidating. Like, these guys look like a bunch of acid heads, but beware: there’s a Henry Rollins bad attitude lurking in one of them, or all of them, happy to punch you in the fucking face. One thing is for sure: the rest of the Osees have Dwyer’s back on A Foul Form—he being the mad wizard in the center of it all, pulling the levers and tinkering with knobs compulsively, stirring shit up in the pit and giving the once over twice two anyone in earshot.

Dwyer recently told Uncut in a rare interview, “I like [making music] and by a process of elimination I found out I was pretty good at it. I had no formal training in any of this shit–I’ve lied my way into every job I’ve ever had. Even the guitar I learned by falling ass-backwards into it.

“Luckily, my guys, I think, realise the amount of work I do makes it a little bit easier on them. We have a good socialist system of payment going, but they don’t have to do things like pay for hotels or book the shows. I’m essentially managing everything because I like doing it. I’m good at it, but I also like controlling! So it’s a little win-win all round.” You can read Uncut‘s full interview with Dwyer here.

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A lack of formality notwithstanding, on A Foul Form, John Dwyer offers his greatest work of clarity in a 22-minute blitzkrieg LP. Mid-album, the album’s title track befriends a coda in “A Burden Snared” which ensues in a blast of sludge, flailing machinations, and death. It’s a work of compulsion demanding your awareness, and your ears.

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