Ola Podrida bring a relaxed beauty to their sound on their self-titled debut. The five-man band may be based out of Brooklyn, but there’s none of the hustle-and-bustle of big city life on Ola Podrida. Instead, the record evokes the waning days of summer, as the leaves slowly but surely change color and the autumn winds begin to pick up. While sometimes their sound can be too relaxed, there’s an enchanting air in the sunset of August.
Ola Podrida opens slow and sweet with “The New Science”, touching the listener. The band gets more evocative with the following “Jordanna”; stripped-down, it still has an unbelievably weighty chorus. Things get a little too light with “Instead”, whose twinkle is a bit too quiet, but then comes the standout “Cindy”. This tale of a woman burning down her own house starts off quiet but driving, boring a hole into your soul, before getting big and detonating that explosive right in your heart.
While “Run Off the Road” is a bit too simple and restrained, it’s still nice, and the preceding “Photo Booth” manages to be wistful without feeling too downbeat. “Day At the Beach” mirrors its title, being quite relaxed, and flowing like the waves. Ola Podrida is more pressing on “Lost and Found” and “A Clouded View”, the former in a fun, wry way, the latter in a haunting style, thanks to twinkle-touch guitars. The piano piece “Pour Me Another” keeps the spirit of the record while nicely changing up the instrument. And the album ends on a high note with the great folk-twang finisher, “Eastbound”; the relaxed fun still has enough energy – and emotion – with just a hint of hippie in the mix.
Ola Podrida can lull one into a light slumber with their sound, staying perhaps too much on the finer side of things. But like the first breeze of fall, the band carries something in their waft, the earliest hints of the end of the long sunny days. Like a panoramic autumn countryside, all full of trees in a glorious medley of greens, yellows, reds, browns, oranges and more, Ola Podrida something to hold onto, even as it slips from your grasp.