I've been a massive supporter of One eskimO going back to 2007 when their entrancing song and video "Hometime" started making the rounds. There were then a lot of stops and starts before their debut album finally reached stores. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a promo copy of the original configuration of their debut and reviewed it here back when it was still called All Balloons. The album was delayed a couple times and by the time it was released in September of 2009, now self titled, most of the tracks had been re-recorded or remixed from their original versions.
I was partial to the original recordings but One eskimO was still a fine debut release, one that scored them a No. 1 AAA Radio hit in "Kandi" and a growing fan base Stateside as they toured across the country. The road to the band's second album has followed a similar path of planned release dates, delays and cancellations. For long stretches there was very little news about what was going on, leading to speculation it may never see the light of day. But finally, and somewhat out of the blue with very little buildup, the band has released the long awaited Faster Than Turtles.
Sonically, this is quite the different direction from the band's debut. Their pop/rock with touches of electronic influences has been replaced with a trippy, darker electronic feel. It is incredibly adventurous musically but don't let that scare you as Kristian Leontiou's sweet melodies and mesmerizing vocal work are still at the core of each song. There is a heaviness to much of this album, simple, breezy pop tunes are not the name of the game this time, but it's an overhaul that pays tremendous dividends.
Any fears that the new sound means the band's music is now inaccessible are alleviated right off the bat with album opener "Giants", the first of many unforgettable melodies to be found amongst the eleven songs here. "Black Dolphins" is another early standout, a lush track that leaves you wanting more than its barely three minute length.
"Get Over Yourself" is the closest this album comes to their earlier sound, although it is still filled with enough glitchy electronics to fit here. "Sunny Day" and "Raincoats" have been floating around for awhile, released as teasers by the band with "Raincoats" the superior of the two, a lovely ballad featuring Leontiou's falsetto that calls to mind "Hometime" just a bit. The gorgeous "Kites" is awash in strings while "Clear" is a more intimate piano piece, punctuated with unsettling digital effects. The stunning "Ground Control" starts as a sparse piano led vocal piece before a bass line starts about two minutes in followed by intense beats as the song takes off in an almost funky direction.
It may have taken One eskimO over four years to release Faster Than Turtles unto the world but if there is one constant for Leontiou and his project, it is his insistence on doing things his way at his pace. So far the album has been released on limited vinyl and digitally through the band's website, with a more widespread release planned for the future. Hopefully the band will reconnect with those who fell in love with their debut as this album deserves to reach as many ears as possible. It's good to have One eskimO back.
Faster Than Turtles was released April 27th, 2015 on vinyl and only in the UK via ECC Records. It is now also available for digital download via One eskimO's website. A more widespread release is currently in the works.