Strikingly bucolic in “Dead Star Light” or surreal to the point of sounding almost entranced in “Fever Dream,” the subtle beats that we hear in the new album Minefields by The One Eighties are never conventional, but they define the very backbone of this record and its most cathartic moments without question.
Employed as a channel through which The One Eighties will convey more than just a taste of emotionality, both the tempo and the construction of rhythm itself contribute something akin to what most bands would apply to lyricism exclusively. There’s something to be said about artists who refuse to limit their reach in or outside of the studio, and although Minefields is as physically engaging as it is aurally stimulating, its biggest allure is its refusal to sit inside of one specific box between country and psychedelic rock, recalling the legacy of the Flying Burrito Brothers almost immediately. That might be what makes this LP so memorable in this age of halfhearted crossover rock and country that falls flat in its efforts to relive the past.
On the flip side of the structured releases we find in the aforementioned tracks, plus “Two Jet Planes,” “Fools Gold” and “Cinnamon,” there’s a tension that runs wild within “Trail,” “No King” and “Minefields” that is indescribably emotional and charged when perceived through the lens of the other material in this album.
As we move from one song to the next in Minefields, it frequently feels as though we’re looking at different angles of a singular theme, and yet nothing ever sounds too much the same. From the moment we press play to the very second in which all of the countrified melodic ribbonry disappears from the air around us, there’s scarcely an instance where The One Eighties aren’t captivating on some surreal level using more than cosmetics alone.
In addition to the purely psychedelic elements here, I love the pop construction in “Two Jet Planes,” the complex “Nightmare, Baby” and specifically “Hold Back the Tide.” The depth of songcraft in Minefields alone makes it something that I’m confident other music enthusiasts are going to rave over, but what’s even more interesting than the scope of this group’s capabilities is perhaps how they go about using them – especially in peak moments like those found in “Two Jet Planes.” The One Eighties have my respect, and my gut tells me I won’t be the only critic saying as much as this record continues to make waves across the underground.
Surprisingly engaging and consistently more complex and involved than anything else I’ve heard under the alternative country scene as of late, The One Eighties’ Minefields is a masterpiece in every department. There aren’t a lot of bands willing to put as much conceptualism into one piece anymore, but while there’s an argument to be made that The One Eighties are not interested in scoring a lot of points with their peers, they’re still managing to perk up a lot of ears among critics and audiences around the country at the moment.