Evolution can be scary, especially with bands whose sounds you hold near and dear. But when it comes to Ohmme, the musical project of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart, evolution should be expected by now. From an early name change (originally Homme) to their constant growth as musicians, Ohmme constantly experiments with what is possible with their music. Of course there are still hallmarks scattered throughout every release, but you’ll find just as many new and interesting sounds to obsess over. Such is the case with their latest album, Fantasize Your Ghost, which delivers the kind of followup to their debut you wish every band could deliver.
Fantasize Your Ghost sees Cunningham, Stewart and their drummer Matt Carroll tackle new horizons with a deft hand immediately with “Flood Your Gut.” Its meditative quality, lyrics and unabashed clash of pop and distortion sets the stage for everything that comes after it. “Selling Candy” then sends you hurtling down the rabbit hole of Ohmme’s sound. Mind-altering vocals, guitars that don’t let up and percussion that drives into your head and sticks there. “Ghost” is an instant classic as its opening guitar churns out a delectable loop before the percussion jumps in alongside Sima’s and Macie’s voices. The song feels heavily indebted to pop music in their vocal cadences and melodies, even as they toss in quick moments of distorted guitars near the end. It also holds on to a ’60s throwback sound that is evident throughout much of the album (“Twitch” and”After All” especially), eschewing the more pristine modern polish that Parts was dripping with. If anything it makes the whole album feel more welcoming than anything they’ve done before.
That sensation of welcoming sounds extends into their more meditative tracks. Tight loops and vocals of “Spell It Out” let you focus on the lyrics of a failing relationship. The song ascends with stellar grace, much like “3 2 4 3,” which has the entire band at their most mesmerizing with its chants of “Different today but I’m the same” and its ending salvo “Tearing them up to start again.” “Some Kind of Calm” has Ohmme at their most restrained and gentle. The song drifts along almost unassumingly, before hitting the “Sturgeon Moon.”
When Ohmme goes full improvisational and near despondent with “Sturgeon Moon”, it’s difficult not to follow them along for the ride. The song feels bleak and heavy, embracing their noisiest instincts for an unsettling track. It’s a huge contrast to the following and final song “After All.” It takes the biggest step away from everything that’s come before and urges some self love. “Lonely girl you’re enough” the song goes as the pair weaves their voices together in their most beautiful and engaging song. As “After All” ends, one line that has been repeated throughout the song leads the way out: “After all I need to plant my rose” and it accomplishes that task splendidly.
While Parts and their self-titled EP are a consistent and catchy collections of songs, Fantasize Your Ghost feels like a more concise and confident album. I don’t like to play favorites, but Fantasize Your Ghost may very well be. Ohmme showed us a glimpse what the band could do, Parts gave us a clearer picture, but Fantasize Your Ghost digs deeper for an even more engaging and enveloping listen.
You can listen to Fantasize Your Ghost on your favorite streaming platform or purchase the album over on Ohmme’s webstore, Joyful Noise Recording’s site, and Bandcamp, who will be donating 100% of their share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Juneteenth (June 19, from midnight to midnight PDT) and every Juneteenth hereafter and then waiving their fees and giving all proceeds to artists on July 3.