OJ Law 'Yesterday is a Distant Dream'

Updated: 29 Jun 2012

Time Out says

Rating: 4/5

OJ Law’s previous album, released in 2008, ended with a track called ‘Destination: CA’. It seems that he was really serious about this, because Law’s latest album is thoroughly steeped in the sun-drenched spirit of 1960s California. ‘A place with sand / A sky so blue’ he sings in his feel-good duet with Liyana Fizi. You have to wonder: is this the same guy who penned the song ‘I Couldn’t Get It Up’ in his first album?

In a word, no. Law’s former lo-fi mode has been replaced with a much slicker, more bankable style. These are solid retro pop offerings, but more predictable than the playful tracks that Law wrote for his debut album, which came from a much weirder and more realistic place (specifically, his bedroom in London).

At the same time, the old cynicism still lingers, with breakup bitterness hidden under upbeat harmonies. ‘I’m your cancer love,’ Law wails innocently in his ballad, ‘Knife’. There’s also a cheeky confidence to the whole project: Law croons barbershop style in one breath and bashes out an unashamedly boyish guitar interlude the next. The result sounds somewhere between Burt Bacharach and Nada Surf.

Opening track ‘Rooftop’ is nothing short of breathtaking, displaying Law’s skills as both songwriter and lyricist: a wistful, Morrissey-like story is backed by a stripped down melody that builds with layers of guitarled suspense. ‘Start/Stop’, meanwhile, is a sugary hit of nostalgic perfection that arrests the listener every time.

With the single ‘Yoñlu’ already buzzing from its soundtrack appearance in ‘Relationship Status’, ‘Yesterday is a Distant Dream’ is set to make OJ Law a star. He deserves the success, but we hope that we haven’t seen the end of his weirder, more experimental music. After all, there are a lot of retro pop songs around these days, but not so many about erectile dysfunction. Ling Low