El Yunque – O Hi Mark [Album Review]

El Yunque - O Hi MarkThis is the album that Nine Inch Nails should have released in 2013.

If instead of Hesitation Marks, NIN had O Hi Mark, the entire world would have shat itself with excitement over their return to form. But instead El Yunque are the masterminds behind this creation, and everyone needs to hear it!

I knew going into this album that it would be marvellously weird and unpredictable, but the incredible range of styles, slapped out in a mostly stripped down fashion and that special El Yunque touch, makes O Hi Mark one of the most important albums of the year.

Their previous album, Boxes, was very noisy, obnoxious and threw a harsh variety of loud, messy punk and mellow acoustics. O Hi Mark instead delivers something highly listenable and damn intriguing from start to finish. Everything feels tightly tuned yet atmospherically progressive, and despite the lengthy repetition, a lot is going on and warrants multiple listens for everything to sink in.

Although most certainly retaining their core noise rock persona, the deliverance is an album that will paint a thousand pictures in your head and although the level of creativity was present in Boxes, O Hi Mark has channelled the sounds in a completely different manner. The structure has been carefully and minimally built to full effect and manages to captivate without excessive layers.

Despite the fairly slow pace, there are no dull moments, adopting strong elements of art rock, electronica and even a phenomenal hip hop styled finale. Basketball references are still present, and the humour within the lyrics are easier to appreciate, and all round off the character of El Yunque perfectly.

This album got me thinking a lot, as not only do 99% of independent bands get heavily underlooked, but bands like El Yunque posses the ability to alter their style, change things up with each release and produce music beyond the quality of that of commercial bands trying to do the same thing. Do yourself a favour and listen to this every day for a week. If your eyes weren’t opened already, they will be now.

This is a difficult album to describe in detail, and even just listening to one song as a preview doesn’t do the whole package justice. O Hi Mark is one of those albums best left to discovery, and make sure you check out the title track as well, which isn’t part of the main album.

Rating: 9.5/10

Jake Hancke – 07/11/2018

O Hi Mark is available now as a digital download, on vinyl and cassette via Sentimental Records, or can be streamed on Spotify.

You can find more on El Yunque via Facebook and BandCamp.

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