When Oshwa released its debut album in 2013, the band proved difficult to describe. At the time, it felt closest to the wild, freewheeling songs made by Tune-yards, but even that felt a little off. For its second record, I We You Me, the band has become more streamlined, but it hasn’t lost its adventurous spirit either. The A.V. Club is streaming all of the album in advance of its release next Friday, and it’s yet another record that shows Chicago musicians are having a real banner year.
The band’s adventurousness has meant it’s never had a song that’s felt like a proper single, but I We You Me’s opener “Ultraflourescent” remedies that. It’s the most straightforward song in Oshwa’s catalog, with vocalist Alicia Walter cribbing some lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” and delivering them with the kind of passion that would make The Boss nod in approval. From there the band quickly shifts direction; nearly every song on I We You Me shows a different side of Oshwa, with “Genie” playing like Joanna Newsom writing soul music, “Why Are We Tonight” bringing in an electro-R&B stomp, and other moments sounding like chamber-pop, math-rock, and plenty of other genres in between. I We You Me shows Oshwa is one of Chicago’s best hidden talents, and certainly one of the most singularly minded.
I We You Me is out August 26 and was produced by Jason Cupp, who has previously worked with Maps & Atlases and Birthmark.