Saturday, September 17, 2022

Album Review: Olivia Nowadays - My Plants Are Hanging on by a Thread

It's hard to reconcile your relationship to the wider, natural world as a human being. You are obviously a product of processes of evolution, and you can't live while denying your biological needs to sleep, eat, and be social- as much as the demands of work and the temptations of isolation through information technology may intervene to convince us otherwise. Our alienation from the natural world is further complicated by industrial innovations, consumer products, and modern housing, making it possible to meet all of your needs without having to touch a single grain of soil or breathe a single breath of air that hasn't been filtered through an HVAC system. This isn't a bad thing, mind you; our inventions and manipulations of our environment drastically improve the quality and length of our lives. But they also produce a longing that is hard to fully contain and satisfy- a desire for something that is often filled by small, conciliatory tokens, like houseplants. Albuquerque's Olivia Nowadays takes our odd relationship with tamed, domestic floral companions to explore greater themes of organic life and its intersections with our artifices on their latest album My Plants Are Hanging on by a Thread. The album is a temperate and largely subdued survey of how products of nature (like you and I) deal with our self-imposed exile from the greater biosphere. An investigation they embark on by blending spontaneous field recordings with concerted currents of flowy and exquisite pop, electro-folk, and post-rock. It's an absorbing and refreshing listen that manages to cultivate fertile spaces for contemplation on all the ways we box ourselves in, only to invite back in all things that we once excluded. It is a thematic exercise that applies not just to ecology, but home decor and social relations as well. A nutrient-rich encounter that is the next best thing to a breezy hike at a state park or forest preserve- but one that you can enjoy in the temperature-controlled environ of your present abode. Now if you will excuse me, my house plants are looking a little thirsty.