What really is an acoustic record? Is it a collection of slower, chilled-out songs performed on acoustic instruments? Is it reworkings of already existing songs, performed in arrangements that make them suitable for the more delicate sound of acoustic instruments? Or is it just songs played on acoustic guitar, regardless of the genre/sound? Bristol’s Oxygen Thief (aka Barry Dolan) clearly believes the latter.
His previous release, ‘Accidents Do Not Happen, They Are Caused’, added a backing band to Barry‘s usual acoustic folk punk stylings, but for ‘One Day This Will All Be Fields’, he has returned to his solo acoustic roots. So, what we have is 5 tracks of frenetic, fast-paced punk all played on just an acoustic guitar with vocals over the top. Does it work? That all depends on how open-minded you are to the medium.
Though there is no doubt that there’s charm to the songs, it doesn’t exactly make for an easy listen. Dolan‘s voice sounds somewhere between Frank Turner and Jamie Lenman, but whereas both these men have used their solo career to somewhat shed their former bands, it appears that Dolan wants to move in the other direction, making this solo acoustic EP even more of a curiosity after releasing one played electrically with a band.
The guitar lines are fast and spazzy. If they had been played on electric guitar, you’d probably applaud the discordant nature and unpredicableness of them. However, on acoustic, they sound tuneless a lot of the time and make a confusing listen as you try and pick out the melody. That’s truly where the fault lies with this EP; when listening, you can’t help wondering why this has been an acoustic release at all.
If this had been recorded with a full band, this review would probably be telling you about how all 5 tracks are powerful and chaotic, and how the likes of ‘Badge Of Dishonour’ and ‘Self-Righting Mechanism’ are catchy, exciting punk anthems waiting to take the country by storm. Instead, it’s telling you that if you aren’t already a die-hard fan of Oxygen Thief, you may want to wait for the next release, which is apparently set to feature the full band again, before checking them out.
Written by Dom Webber