ALBUM REVIEW: Observe the 93rd – Eternalism

Aesthetically Pennsylvanian duo Observe the 93rd sound like a pop-rock band tailor-made for blasting out catchy bombast from a stadium.

With a name referencing the idea that the observable universe is 93 billion lightyears in diameter, they waste no time in firing up the rockets of their fluorescent, intergalactic Space Rock on Eternalism.

Opening tracks “We Are Already Dead” and “Hypnotic” give clear nods to two of the duo’s biggest musical inspirations, Muse and System of a Down (two bands that never shy away from silliness in their own distinct ways).

The album opener channels the former (the bouncy electro pop-rock driven by a Eurythmics evoking synth melody before additional guitars add sci-fi pop-rock vibes) while the heavier guitars of the latter track (as well as vocal melodies) are the first (but definitely not last) reference to rock’s most famous Armenian-American sons.

While the music always maintains a certain fun, catchy poppiness, there is a dark, manic edge to much of this music (not least the screams of “we are already dead” on the first track).

“Clever III” (featuring an infectious, scuttling ascending rhythm) certainly wears the

SOAD influences firmly on its sleeve, but the carnival-quirkiness is effective and even hints at Mr. Bungle at moments (if you smoothed away all the really abrasive and shocking elements).

“Gong Station Chimes” meanwhile splices an opening Little Richard-like vocal stream, to the (by now fairly identifiable) Muse-rock bombast, and (intriguingly) perhaps just a little Type-O Negative Goth-Rock spookiness.

With “Stick Around”, in comparison, opening with a shiny, Blink 182-reminiscent guitar intro (leading into shades of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” in the chorus), you have most of the musical references needed to get a sense of the varied (but often quite referential) sound(s) of the album as a whole.

Fittingly, given the intergalactic tone of the music, the production is big and booming (with the electro-dance beats of tracks like “Deja Vu Slide” as easy to imagine pumping out of a nightclub as from the PA at a show).

Both the album’s press release and the band’s own bio characterise the music as “raw”, which feels like a strange description for music this heavily produced and polished, but there’s no denying the energy (especially in the often impressive vocal performances).

While the band’s commitment to the music never wavers, not every track totally sinks its pop-rock hooks in, but overall there’s enough evident creativity and ability to make this an enjoyable (and often undeniably catchy) alt-pop-rock voyage.

If you love Muse and My Chemical Romance, you might be advised to squint your eyes and see the number below as one higher.

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7 / 10