Before there was The Most Serene Republic, there was Thee Oneironauts. At the tender age of eighteen, TMSR’s Nick Greaves (guitar), Adrian Jewett (vocals), and Ryan Lenssen (keyboards/producer – QRO interview), recorded under the name ‘Thee Oneironauts’. While they would later head to college, reunite and rope in others as The Republic, Thee Oneironauts – remastered and re-released – captures a sweet, impressively skillful indietronic adolescence.
When TMSR released debut Underwater Cinematographer, Alternative Press said, "The Postal Service should be worried," and while that comparison wasn’t quite right (and the band hates being compared to others – QRO interview), it does feel apt for Thee Oneironauts. Of course, Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard and Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello practically introduced the wider world to indietronica, so anything in that vein does have Postal hallmarks (including the most recent Death Cab album – QRO review). But the soft synths above Casio beats, with wistful but matter-of-fact vocals, make Thee particularly Postal-y in such tracks as "The Breath".
What makes Thee Oneironauts stand out is that it practically celebrates childhood & adolescence. When most teens can’t wait to get out of the house and into college, Greaves, Jewett, and Lenssen revel in their innocence on "Zoltar Speaks", "St. Germain", and closer "Home of the Rebels" (whose title would later become the name of TMSR’s own label). This makes Thee refreshing, and when the element is missing, such as the bright "Clara Bow", the record can feel a bit run-of-the-mill.
Usually, releases of early material by a band is fairly unrewarding – raw tracks of songs that would become better, and forgotten songs that were left fallow for a reason. Thee Oneironauts stands out for being not one person’s early work but three, and not early versions of songs but brand-new material – but mostly for being able to stand on its own two feet as a release. The Most Serene Republic change up their sound with seemingly every release, but it’s always an accomplished sound, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that Greaves, Jewett & Lenssen were doing it before they even were TMSR – but you’d be hard-pressed to find any other eighteen-year-olds making music this skillful & enjoyable.
MP3 Stream: "Zoltar Speaks"