In a genre dominated by overcrowded compositions and cliche lyrics, electronic group Opia is doing something new.
Opia is the brainchild of Yale graduates, Cole Citrenbaum (vocals/guitar) and Jacob Reske (producer). The band is now joined by fellow Yale graduate, DJ Stanfill (vocals/keys). The group was born after Citrenbaum and Reske spent some time recording and producing the Spizzwinks(?), a Yale acapella group. After Reske showed off some of his beats, Citrenbaum became inclined to work with him. The two both happened to be in LA the following summer, and they would spend days recording in Reske's small, unfurnished apartment. However, these primitive recording sessions would turn into Opia's first singles for the EP, Faded.
The first single, "Falling," went near the top of the charts on Spotify, Soundcloud, and Hype Machine after it was released in January. The single also made it onto Spotify's popular playlist, New Music Fridays. After a long wait, Opia dropped their full album on July 7, 2017. The album is comprised of previously-released singles, "Falling," "YDU," "Secrets," "Devil in Disguise," and "Faded," and one new addition, "Heart of Gold."
About the new album, Opia commented, “The Faded EP was inspired by a time of transitions–from college to LA, from one relationship to the next, from adolescence to adulthood. 'Faded' is about recognizing both the parts of ourselves that fade during these transitions, and the new parts that add color and meaning to the future as we grow.” Even the order of the tracks on the EP show change and transition. From the hard drop on "Faded" to the softer track "YDU," the new release is a mixture of highs and lows transitioning into one another.
The EP begins with the soft vocal harmonies on "Faded," a track released earlier in the week. The songs's first verse continues to slowly build until the chorus drops. In comes Opia's signature sound, tightly muted guitar combined with punchy synths and simple drums to create a methodical breakdown. Everything Opia does on the track seems purposeful; much of modern electronic music is just synth after synth piled onto one another to create huge yet muddy compositions. In Faded, every instrument serves a purpose within the song.
The second song, "YDU," is more calming with the chorus' lyrics reigning supreme: "You don't understand my love." The vocal harmonies are very prevalent and Opia employs many silences to give this song a slow, pulsing feel. In "Devil in Disguise," the guitar-synth combo returns with a vengeance. The guitar is especially prevalent–a nice surprise in a genre dominated by computerized instrumentation and MIDI. The only new song on the release, "Heart of Gold," fits well on the EP and slows down the tempo again, much like "YDU." "Secrets" is the only song on the EP that features another artist, Sam Fischer. The song has a catchy riff on the chorus and is probably the pop-iest song on the album; fittingly, it is one of the most popular singles with over 400 thousand streams. Placing "Falling" as the last track was a bold move by Opia. The single was the reason that Opia landed on the map and the remix of the song by Whethan accumulated an additional 10 million streams on Spotify. It is the best song on the album and presents all the best parts about Opia's music: real guitar, loud bass, and catchy lyrics–leaving the listener fully satisfied.
This EP is best if listened to all the way through; clocking in at only 20 minutes, it is well worth your time. The album is perfect for fans of MGMT, LANY, or M83.
Hot off a tour with Marian Hill, Opia departs for another run with fellow electronic artist, Whethan, starting in September of this year.