Oh No Ono's first record to be released on U.S. soil is an album fraught with contrasts and the kind of opposites-attract mentality that so many "weird" pop bands, from Of Montreal to recent Animal Collective, have championed. It's a record that is at times incredibly easy to sing along to and at others is so undeniably odd that it's almost creepily off-putting. And like Oh No Ono themselves, Eggs is just a hard album to place in general. The band themselves, a Danish quintet who have been around since 2003, mix electro-pop with experimental noise and the occasional dollop of funk or gothic new-wave, all with a nasally singer who calls to mind MGMT or John Lennon on a vast variety of uppers and several hits of LSD.
Having never listened to Oh No Ono before, it's impossible for me to tell whether Eggs is a progression of their sound or something altogether new, but I can tell you this: Eggs might be the most bipolar record I've heard so far this year, at times crafting some of the purest, sugary melodies this side of Beach House and at others sounding so impeccably f***** up that it's difficult to determine whether they're entirely serious. The weirdly serious, almost threateningly long "Eve" and the synth stabs of the sinister "Icicles" are the most prominent of the latter, and when taken in comparison with the rest of the record, they stand out like sore thumbs. But then again, in the context of Oh No Ono's anything-goes mentality, I suppose it makes sense. And in the proud tradition of psychedelic pioneers like Syd Barrett and the Flaming Lips, Oh No Ono refuse to compromise on their strangeness.
From the Middle Eastern vibe of "Eleanor Speaks" to the majestic church bells on "Swim" to the nearly ten-minute long, grandiose freak-out of closer "Beelitz," Eggs throw everything and the kitchen sink into this amalgam of indie but steady it with the all-important hooks of some truly talented songwriters. Don't be mistaken; you'll never hear a song like "Swim" or the mellow flow of "The Wave Ballet" on alternative radio, but beneath all the layers of psychedelia and sonic textures are hooks and harmonies so pristine and effortlessly shiny that it's hard not to get stuck in your head.
Eggs should be a ridiculously confounding work, as layered and tremendously outsized with neon bells and tie-dyed whistles as it is, but once you get past the sometimes piercing nasal whine of singer Malthe Fischer and the intimidating array of instruments and influences, you'll discover some truly affecting pop gems: the sparkling radiance of "The Tea Party" (which initially reminded me of Zelda: Ocarina of Time . . . bizarre), the upbeat hop of "Mis Miss Moss," the lovesick chorus of "Helplessly Young." But most of all, you'll discover a band that isn't afraid to tear down the constraints of everyday, regular indie pop and inject a healthy dose of eccentricity into one of music's most timeworn and loved equations.