When I first heard of the Owls, I did a search which revealed that, apparently, they were a side project of the semi-famous Hang Ups. Semi-famous - I liked that a lot, but I had no idea who the Hang Ups were and I had to go to a birthday party, so I forgot all about it soon enough. Until, that is, the birthday boy handed me a Hang Ups single I didn't even know he posessed. Amazed, I told him I had been wondering about them a few hours earlier and explained why.
"And of course they are great, like the Hang Ups, aren't they?"
Not having found out much more about those mysterious Hang Ups since, I'll have to take his word about their greatness, but at least now (nearing the end of the 11th listen of "Our hopes and dreams", the Owls's debut album) I can tell you about the Owls.
Well. Great might not be the first word that springs to mind when listening to them (though it does tend to emerge later). Sweet is more like it - closely followed by airy, coy, sexy, fragile, intimate, pop, (and did I mention sweet?)
If you find those words a weird mix, it is because they are. "Our hopes and dreams", apart from being the proud owner of the most honest, straightforward, Friends-of-the-Heroes-y title I've had the pleasure of coming across in my short career as a reviewer, it is also a music box whose creator seems to have been brought up on a diet of Cardigans, Stereolab, Beatles and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci records along with the best of Nick Drake tape your best friend gave you in 1999. What I'm trying to say is that it is an honest mix of whimsical things, simple without being simplistic, stronger than it seems at first and not so much bittersweet as it is happysad.
And, above all, charming. Their charm is the main strength - and it is a charm that grows on you. It might take a while but you will, most likely, end up marvelling at something or other about this band. The strange, introverted perfectness of the arrangements, for example, or the underlying strength of the lyrics, or maybe, come to think about it, its honesty. You will probably end up in love with some song or other, too, whether is will be one of the semi-radio-hits 'Air' or 'Do ya' or maybe the (semi-) nursery-rhyme 'Baby boy' that has been breaking my heart for ten consecutive days (by telling about half a life story based on the relationship between a mother and her son in ten lines and an amazing piano line over and over again.)
Rachel once said it's hard to read about other people's dreams except if you're a really good dreamer yourself but well, look, if you like this site, you'll probably like this record too.