Three years ago, Omni recorded an album that, by almost any other band, would have been considered slapdash: nearly overnight, mostly unedited and as a side project designed to sow some musical wild oats. When Deluxe officially dropped out of nowhere and to unanimous critical acclaim, it became clear that Omni had snatched the title of “most interesting post-punk” band. In the years since, it has tightened that grip.
2017’s Multi-task, recorded in similar fashion, blew up the sophomore slump and featured a more sure-footed sound and the same instrumental complexity that made Deluxe an instant hit. While touring in support of Multi-task, Omni caught the eye of Sub Pop, which locked them into a deal with the label for the group’s third studio, Networker, that dropped in November 2019.
Much like Deluxe and Multi-task, Networker served as proof of a band comfortable pushing its boundaries and re-writing crucial pieces of its identity, while maintaining the confidence to hang onto the core elements of its artistic success.
One of the things that separates Omni from other groups of its ilk is the extreme contrapuntal interplay between guitar and bass. Founders Philip Frobos on bass, and Frankie Broyles (formerly of Deerhunter) on guitar, began making music with each other out of desperation: after languishing in a few failed projects, both were looking for an outlet to make music that felt fun and true to their creative spirits. As they began to create tracks in earnest, they discovered they spoke a mutual musical language. Broyles cranks out precise, jagged riffs and light-fingered runs. Frobos drives his basslines like a running conversation, interjecting and elaborating on the kinds of connected ideas rarely heard in the lo-fi sphere.
While Omni’s first two albums combined these elements into a kind of controlled chaos, Networker feels a bit different. Both Frobos and Broyles took a little more time to edit, revise and plan the record. As a result, while it still has an underlying frenetic current, the edges are a bit more polished, the ideas more refined and the production smoother.
Omni has hit another gear, and we’re just along for the ride.