The debut record of Galway based singer-songwriter Oisin Mod doesn’t often feel like the work of a new artist, so defined are the dreamy soundscapes and hazy textures which Mod constructs his ruminative narratives within.
It’s a blissfully psychedelic journey that lasts a mere 39 minutes, but Honeycomb is the culmination of years spent searching for an individual musical identity. The 25-year-old Mod traversed the music scene around Galway in a number of local bands throughout his teens and early twenties, but decided to pursue his solo ambitions after calling it quits with his latest group. Enlisting Coral veteran Bill Ryder-Jones to produce a number of demos, the duo booked a ten day studio stint to realize their vision for the song sketches.
It proves an inspired pairing over the course of ten lush tracks that combine the intimate vocal stylings of Elliott Smith with a shozegaze tinted swirl which allows Mod’s melancholic reflections to cast a hypnotic spell from beginning to end. Honeycomb opens with ‘Luminator’, a sparsely populated wave of spacey dreampop that uses plucked guitar strings, soothing keys and Mod’s whispered vocals to wash over the listener with a warm yet strangely haunting welcome.
It’s a perfect way to set the tone, but the vibes are switched up instantly as ‘Broken Record’ serves up a retro slice of sixties pop, calling back to the British Invasion with the shadows of The Zombies and The Kinks looming large over the deceptively bright melodies of ‘Lavender’ and ‘Don’t Take The Trouble’ among others.
The dreamier elements of Honeycomb come into focus at various points throughout this pleasantly blurry affair, initially with a trippy title track that combines Mod’s washed out vocals with a reverb soaked guitar line to majestic effect. ‘Open Window’ is a jaded centerpiece with a simply strung acoustic backing, but crucially finds Mod at his most captivating lyrically as he wistfully contemplates the fallout of a failed relationship. It’s one of the most personal tales spun throughout Honeycomb alongside closing highlight ‘Outside Your Head’, and both are bonafide highlights for their vulnerable glimpse inside the heart and soul of Mod.
The influence of the late Smith is never more apparent than on the record’s standout track in ‘Moment’s Notice’. Released back in March, Honeycomb’s lead single is a breathtaking ballad led by Mod’s detached narrative and a chilling piano refrain, with a mesmerizing vocal performance and glowing production that highlights the young songwriter’s dark allure more effectively than anything else on this debut.
The overwhelming impulse to instantly press play again on ‘Luminator’ having finished ‘Outside Your Head’ is evidence enough that Mod and Ryder-Jones have conjured up something special within these 39 mystical minutes. A warm and layered sonic puzzle which continues to reveal itself after an initial dive, Honeycomb is the sound of a fascinating artist finding their voice.