Just in time for the summer Pepper have released their seventh studio album entitled Ohana, which is sure to give listeners a reason to rejoice.
The LP on a whole is very consistent throughout, channeling beach vibes served up in alternative pop songs, but it is the second half of the record where Pepper really shines.
On “Wait” Pepper uses minimal instrumentation and visual lyrics with a longing view to connect with its audience. The sparse use of guitars allows lead singer Kaleo Wassman to showcase his talents as a vocalist. When Wassman wails “I don’t wanna wait no more” over and over again, it becomes more soulful with each repetition. One can really feel the predicament the central character finds himself him, pining for a girl who is already attached. “Wait,” has a distinctive funk groove to it, while still maintaining an alternative element that separates it from other tracks on the album. It’s delicious and weighty at the same time, like a soap opera in the form of a song making it completely addictive.
“Big Mistake” has a retro, lo-fi sound to it that helps it attain the ultimate chill feeling one gets when listening to the song. It’s soft and gentle but definitely has enough content to elevate it to a track that is more than just a reggae influenced light tune. “Let’s make a big mistake and believe what I’m saying/Cause these feelings here won’t shake,” Wassman croons, successfully making any woman want to follow him and do something that is wrong because it will feel so right. Entirely infectious with its catchy chorus and Wassman’s delicate but commanding vocals, “Big Mistake” is one track not to be skipped on the record.
Much of the brilliance of “Bones” lay in the lyrics, which are incredibly vibrant and real, painting the perfect picture of a summertime love. “Let’s watch the fireworks colors light up oceans in the sky,” Wassman sings, and when he states that he wants to make that feeling last all year it’s hard to disagree with the frontman. This is a song for anyone who has ever fallen in love and had the perfect summer and didn’t want it to end. Extremely positive “we can make the best of what’s around,” and incredibly radio friendly, this is the tune one should crank up at the beach on the 4th of July while they are with their significant other, or summertime love, and enjoy together.
The band clearly saved their best work for the last track on the album which is “Around.” It has a very Police vibe to it but doesn’t sound derivative. Echo effects are used throughout the tune which enhance the feeling Wassman is trying to evoke of a woman who doesn’t stay. The vocals, as well as the production, are slick and sexy, much like the woman talked about in the song. It sucks listeners in from note one and doesn’t let go, Pepper again knowing how to perfectly capture and hold its audiences’ attention. Yes, it’s another laid back tune in its instrumentation and Wassmans vocal delivery, but it is also unlike any other song on the album, helping to cement it as the most superior tune on Ohana.
Unfortunately not every moment Pepper presents on the LP can be as successful as “Around.” Early on “Vacation” sounds dated, and not in a good way. The band was most likely going for a throwback sound, but it can’t settle on what decade it is a throwback to. The almost cringe worthy lyrics such as “take your clothes off/show me what’s under” paired with the cheesy chorus are a bit of a disaster. “Never Ending Summer” starts off really promising with a hazy effect, but for the most part it blends in with so much of the rest of the album that it will likely fade in listeners minds as far greater song take its place. Meanwhile “Reckless,” which tries for a harder edge sound comes up short and feels out of place on the album.
Still there are gems to be found on Ohana, and while it isn’t the perfect soundtrack to the summer, it’s still good enough to find at least a few tracks to put on a summer mix cd.