Ovlov, obscurantist fuzz-rockers from Newtown, CT, have finally returned from their nail-biting, years-long hiatus. It was a widespread belief among their cult following that the band had broken up for good, their last new material being a couple of split 7-inchers back in 2014. It seemed that, after their impressive 2013 debut LP, am, Ovlov had reached a standstill that threatened to leave the band and their audience with just one truly successful LP to listen to on repeat forever, a fate suffered by many underground greats. A Greatest Hits collection released in 2017, however, was a beacon of hope that Ovlov hadn’t yet fallen of the map. Their brand new LP, TRU, showcases the big garage sound and memorable songwriting Ovlov fans have come to know well ever since their first EP, Crazy Motorcycle Jump EP, in 2009.
Actually, “memorable” doesn’t quite cut it; déjà vu is probably more accurate, as TRU plays through like an am part 2, an extension of Ovlov’s definitive LP. And I’m not knocking them for it – I think this is just what Ovlov fans wanted, because every time I get to the end of am, I think to myself, I wish this album were longer. TRU is an answer to all who have had that feeling, and it’s clear that this was Ovlov’s intention. The album opens with “Baby Alligator,” an allusion to am’s closer, “The Great Alligator,” which actually flows so well into the former, that you’d think they were on the same album. This wasn’t the first time the band have alluded to that song, either; the single on their 2014 split with Little Big League is entitled “The Great Crocodile”. TRU’s “Tru Punk” has a Minus-the-Bear-esque guitar hook, and is an allusion to am’s “Nu Punk”.
But, the am homage doesn’t end there. “Spright” actually uses a riff nearly identical to am’s “Moth Rock,” one of the album’s gems. One track that sticks out in particular as being unique to what Ovlov has done in the past – or even in the present – is “The Best of You,” which has a mathy rhythm, cleaner guitar tones, and drums closer to the front of the mix. And, in the song’s exhilarating outro, there is this beautiful shimmering reverb overtone coloring the fuzzy wall of guitars and crashing cymbals, a sound I’ve not heard in any Ovlov before. ‘Twas a very nice surprise. While so many bands sacrifice their signature sound in attempt to stay hip, Ovlov stay tru to their roots, and I don’t think anyone’s complaining. It’s too often the case that bands become stale if they don’t take radically new approaches to every album, but Ovlov have succeeded in producing a flavor that has an exceptionally long shelf life. — KYLE WEINSTEIN