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Album Review: Full Bloom by Ōverwhelm

By Grace Bell

Ōverwhelm released their newest EP, Full Bloom, in early 2022 and it captures some of the most poignant emotions and questions facing our generation.

The four-piece group consists of Sonya on the drums, Matt on bass, and Deb and Milan both on guitars and vocals. Their lyrics tap into grievances with larger trends along with deeply personal topics that showcase the power of vulnerability. The poetic quality of these lyrics is framed by raw instrumentals, juxtaposing strength in softness.

Full Bloom's first track, "Etheric Body," is a crushingly honest ode to softness. The concept and aesthetic of ethereality is one seen all over social media, artistic scenes, and fashion. It is visually identifiable through translucent color schemes, flowing lines and angelic tropes. "Etheric Body" immediately submerges the listener in grinding guitar that leads into an onslaught of sound. From the depths of this music rises vocals that redefine the tenets of etherealism. It rejects piety and purity while embracing the call for emotional vulnerability. Ethereality is not limited to pale tones and whispering voices -- it can be a scream for reprieve from a culture that demands strength and independence.

"Crave" acknowledges the longings spoken of in "Etheric Body" while addressing the fear of those very desires. Its low droning grind explodes with raw vocals and pounding instrumentals. It carries the aggression of desperately wanting validation, closeness and love while not being able to allow yourself to accept it. The lines "I’m not scared of rejection // I’m petrified of acceptance" function as a foil for "Etheric Body" as it highlights the duality of emotion. From title to sound, "Crave" illustrates the frustrating predicament of longing for something in a society that insists we don't deserve it.

Ōverwhelm engages in the discussion of how, as both a community and individuals, we can liberate ourselves from such oppressive forces. "Virtuism/Essentialism" immediately calls out its intended target in the opening lines, “Forward thinking but constantly moving backwards." It carries on addressing the wave of performative activism, empty promises, and ego-driven do-gooders. It contains one of my favorite lines from the entire EP: "A critical lens doesn’t magnify rose colored glasses." This perfectly encapsulates the division of theory and lived experience.

The third track of the EP, "Time and Place," invites the listener into the lived experience of the artists. It speaks to the complexity of racial identity and the lineage of erasure. From phenotypic attributes to the land a community occupies, "Time and Place" discusses the layered elements that intersect to create a culture. The song moves from meandering chords to a melancholy swell of drums and guitar. As with the rest of the album, the vocals rise from the back of the music as a tender scream. It grieves for the displacement of marginalized communities while offering hope in lines such as "Strength and grace//The mark of my people and many others, adjacent//The miracle of how we persist, not entirely jaded."

The shoegaze affair Full Bloom is a triumph of poetic lyricism and immersive sound. It does not shy away from the complexity of emotion and the human experience. While it addresses intimate feelings, the themes Ōverwhelm tackles are relevant to any listener. It offers the speaker and listener compassion while rejecting the act of wallowing in self-pity through powerful instrumentals. The album embraces duality and unites listeners in rebellious vulnerability. You can find this album on their Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

Photos by @mmtruj20 on Instagram.

Grace Bell is a writer living and working in Albuquerque, NM. @woodiewoodford on Instagram.

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