Truth is…indie bands like us aren’t in it for the money, we just want to know there’s a few people out there nodding their head to our stuff.
The above is a direct quote from the web pages of Observer Effect, a folk-rock group from Brisbane, Australia, who sent me a link to their new single “Philosopher” through Twitter. I clicked on it, had a listen and loved what I was hearing: a beautiful (yet interesting) melody, exquisite harmonies (that kick in towards the end), subtle and inventive keyboard work (introducing different sounds and riffs throughout the song), and rather adventurous guitar playing that brings to mind Procol Harum’s Robin Trower (check out the licks during the closing climax of the song).
Observer Effect is a prime example of an intelligent rock band that has honed their craft over time and found a unique sound and a niche for themselves. The two singles they’ve released so far are very different from one another as compositions, but in terms of sound and style they are very much different parts of the same animal – which is exactly how it should be. And obviously, it doesn’t hurt that these guys play very well together. The band is tight and their arrangements are intriguing, even rather ambitious at times. This is particularly true for “Philosopher” – check out what’s happening behind the couplet “And the Philosopher said I’ll obey you/If you answer true.” Magical stuff!
But the nice thing about Observer Effect is that their lure is not limited to their arrangements and melodies. Another reason to appreciate this band is their lyrics. “Philosopher,” for instance, ponders existentialist questions. The song is about a person searching to discover who he is and where he is headed.
Where do we go when the stars draw near?
Where do we go from here?
How will we fly?
Will we fall?
Will we rise?
Where do we go from here?
I like the phrase “Where do we go when the stars draw near.” In other words, what do you do if you notice that your dreams are actually within your reach? It’s one of the most important questions in life. It’s easy to complain and say what you would do, if given a chance. However, the real challenge arises when you actually have to decide whether or not to follow your dreams. It’s this search for true self and pursuit of one’s dreams that is the prominent theme in Observer Effect’s debut single as well – or rather, in the case of “The Shelf,” the lack of it.
She’s living in a place so pretty
Fast life in the heart of the city
But she’s fooling herself
She does what is expected
Exactly as directed
Some might say she’s sitting on the shelf
Girl, why in the world live a lie?
I say, girl, why live a lie? Oh why?
I guess the tragedy of existentialist questions is that while they most certainly aren’t meant as rhetorical questions (quite a few people devote their lives to these contemplations), they are the sort of questions that are very difficult to answer satisfactorily. You see, whether we like to admit it or not (we usually don’t), our personalities and beliefs change constantly in tandem with what life throws our way. So many of my friends have had to re-evaluate their lives and goals completely due to losing their jobs, falling ill or getting divorced (and I could make this list endless but I won’t). In a way, we are never really ready. Life is truly more a journey than a destination.
If my journey on earth has taught me anything it’s that being bold enough to ask the right questions in life is the key to everything – I guess that’s the reason why I am so fond of this group’s lyrics. If you don’t, you will most likely end up like the protagonist in “The Shelf” – too scared to be honest about her feelings (“She never swears, never gets angry, never shows that she’s unhappy”) and not brave enough to make her dreams come true (“Oh girl, will it take the sky to fall in to do what you’re really dreaming?”).
Before closing, I must say I appreciate the attitude of this group. It’s refreshing to read a pitch like the one in the beginning of this review. Usually what you get is people listing accomplishment after accomplishment, trying to impress you with merits that have very little to do with music – least of all the song they want you to listen. In the case of Observer Effect, you get something magical and if there is any fairness in life, we will get to read about their accomplishments in reviews like this for years to come.
This week, I want to leave you with the words of Albert Camus, a French philosopher, author and journalist: “There is no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things we do.”
Oh, and I almost forgot. Do the world of folk rock a favor and go follow these guys in Spotify and in social media. Let’s spread the word and give Observer Effect the attention they deserve.
Go check out the cool music video of “The Shelf”. Enjoy:
You can learn more about Observer Effect here:
About the curator - Tommi Tikka
Tom Tikka is a linguist, poet, professional songwriter, recording artist and a music aficionado. He started playing guitar when he was four and writing songs when he was six. Consequently, he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't playing or writing. It's fair to say, music and lyrics are not just something he loves to engage himself in; to him, they are a way of life.