Odyssey 5ive – Looking Backward, Moving Forward

Odyssey 5ive
Looking Backward, Moving Forward

I sincerely enjoy synth-pop acts like The Human League, Visage, and Ultravox, bands that could easily be called cheesy. I too admit that they do not have the “coolest” sound. But some cheese is good for you. Odyssey 5ive’s debut album, Looking Backward, Moving Forward, also falls into the category of synth-pop. So is it cheesy? Well, in some ways, yes it is. And, no, I am not talking about the band’s name (which technically should be pronounced “odyssey five ive,” though I do not think that is the intention). However, I have a feeling this can be attributed to the vocoder effects that are on all of Michael Kirson Godapper’s vocals. It would have been nice to see how I would perceive the band if they did not use these unnecessary and annoying effects. If you’re not familiar with this robot-sounding effect, then simply recall Cher’s recent pop hit “Believe.” If you couldn’t get enough of that song, then you may enjoy Odyssey 5ive.
I should give Odyssey 5ive more credit. Besides the use of vocoder, they sound nothing like “Believe.” The music on Looking Backward, Moving Forward can in fact be beautiful at times with its heavy use of synthesizers, piano, vibes, bass, and acoustic guitar. It also has a much more contemporary sound than most synth pop. Odyssey 5ive are not one of those current bands that is following the recent trend to sound like New Wave acts from the 80s.
“Love’s Departure” is by far my favorite track. Here the synths do take on a very retro sound. They are very fantastical, very atmospheric, very Pink Floyd. The song lulls by in a dreamlike state with its use of vibes and vocals that actually do not have the “Believe” sound. Instead, they sound like a talking computer, much to the song’s advantage, mind you. And the following lyrics even sound sincere, though they’re spoken in a way that sounds far from human, “will this ever end? / will you ever come back home? / I don’t know how to go on / I will not survive if this goes on forever / goodnight sweetheart.” “Godspeed” follows as an atmospheric instrumental that also sounds more vintage than the rest of the album. Funny thing is, these are the final two of the 11 songs to be found on Looking Backward, Moving Forward.
The remainder of the songs has more of a mild dance quality to them. “Hardlife” is an obvious standout, as it is more up-tempo, relying on a disco synth and Wurlitzer keyboard. Like the majority of the songs, “Hardlife” is about the hardships of love, “when you see me you can always turn the other way.” “Show Me” is driven by a slow, dub-like bass, and serves as a perfect intermission between the more conventional “Bring on the Night” and “Breaking Free.” Finally, “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere” serves as a transition between the more contemporary songs and the final two vintage songs. The instrumental uses both that Pink Floyd synth and electric piano.
Odyssey 5ive is definitely not as bad as the band name may lead you to believe. And I know I would enjoy this album more if effect-less vocals were used. With the vast mix of instruments, it is not difficult to see the work that was put into Looking Backward, Moving Forward. Odyssey 5ive’s sound is lush and dreamy. If you’re a fan of the vocoder, then I urge you to hazard a listen.