Origami Angel has the unique talent of sounding like the sweetest pop band and an over-the-top hardcore band all in the same song. The sweetness comes from frontman Ryland Heagy’s charming vocals. It’s a unique sound that endears the band to its fans. Origami Angel’s new album, The Brightest Days, manages to hit the right notes while blending pop, emo rock, hardcore, and punk. The album is a blast and a must listen!
The album opens the title track and the ukelele sing-along is a catchy earworm. But that’s not where the remains. 55 seconds in a tidal wave of sound starts to build in the background and at the 1-minute mark of the song the band plunges into full hardcore instrumentalization. Emerging from that sound at the 1:12 mark Heagy and the band kick into a brilliant sound rock composition. This song exemplifies so much of what makes the band work.
The album's second track, “Thank You, New Jersey,” is a fast-paced surf-rock tune that shows that the band isn’t averse to just having fun. The band even manages to slip in a very Bobby Alu bridge in the song! It’s incredible listening to the tempo changes in these songs. “Thank you” is likely to be the tune fans play the most. It’s that fun!
The opening of the song “Picture Frame” stylistically is a call-back to emo bands Jimmy Eat World and Weezer. The following guitar riffs are a little harder than those bands, but you feel a connection with the tune as soon as the opening guitar bounce starts, and it is shortly accompanied by Heagy. It is rare that an album opens with three songs this strong. The band has figured out how to mix in the various stylistic shifts they like in a song while keeping each one of these songs under three minutes long. As much as I like to hear more it's hard to argue with really tight arrangements.
A couple of surprises (and gems) are slotted in the fifth and sixth tracks. On “Second Best Friend” Heagy’s vocals are a little more airy and the sound is a little more pop-rock. The background vocals are layered beautifully, and the sound really works. “Looking Out” is a sweet straight-ahead ukelele song with Heagy’s vocals. I kept waiting for the edgy guitars to kick in, but they didn’t. It was a very nice change-up and well-slotted on the album.
Of course, after a sweet ukulele tune, the band had to go hard on the seventh track. “My PG County Summer” indeed starts heavy before settling into a super catchy rock tune. The keyboard on the track is a nice element. The lyrics bemoan the myriad of ill-willed visitors to the nation’s capital that descend on Prince George’s County every summer. The song, along with the album’s closing track, “Few and Far Between” focus on the experience of living so close the Washington DC and how changes in the capital ripple out to the suburbs. These are not political songs, but they do comment on how politics can steal joy from our lives. The lyrics from “Few and Far Between” riff on the album’s opening track saying “’Cause when it’s been raining the whole summer, the brightest days are few and far between.” The closing track closes out with these melancholy lyrics before sliding into the optimistic opening lyrics from “The Brightest Day” that opened the album. The circle is quite cleverly closed, and the optimism is suspended.
One of the great things to see on my streaming service each song on The Brightest Days is getting plenty of streams. That usually means different fans are connecting to different tunes. It also likely means that people are enjoying the experience of listening to the entire album. This is a terrific album that you should check out. Try to listen all the way through the first time you listen. The emotion you feel when the band delivers the close of “Few and Far Between” makes it worth listening to the a