The title of O & The Mo ‘s new album, ‘In Transit’, sets the listener up for some kind of journey. The short intro track Take Off delivers an atmospheric reverb-filled guitar vibe, with dreamy vocalisations by Olivia Gallagher (the ‘O’ in the group’s name), joined by rhythm section Hugo Olsen-Smith and Josh Brown with a fun groove, and a muffled spoken-word vocal from Alvin Bartley (‘The Mo’).
It’s rather like the captain’s intercom message in a plane, when you’re sitting there all buckled-up and ready for take-off.
Initiated before Covid was a thing, this recording became a lockdown album by the Wellington-based dream-pop group. With Gallagher and Bartley escaping the city for that late summer period it was recorded mostly in the Tasman region, known for its beaches and good living. This lifestyle comes through in the album’s ambience.
Reminiscent of Lana Del Ray, Gallagher’s voice also has a quality akin to Australian singer Julia Stone. Vocal clarity can be a casualty when you’re going heavy on the reverb and was evidently a production decision, but overall more comprehensibility of the lyrics would have been welcome given the likeable voices of both. The relaxed, often layered guitar style resembles that of Dunedin band Soaked Oats.
Overtired, the second song on the album, continues the cruisey feel that flows throughout the remainder of the album’s 10 tracks. Honey has a beautiful guitar rhythm and a broken-down section after about three minutes which provides a bit more interest, before building up again with a gorgeous synth part at the end.
Other highlight tracks are Pistachio Moon, New Lullabies, and Thicker Skin which features an acoustic guitar sound and clearer vocals. The last track, Goodnight, is a mellow instrumental with subtle whispers floating in and out like a lullaby. Listen to this album in the evening sun, cocktail in hand, and let it wash over you.