On a scale of 1-100, Origin is a 99. Bold words for a full-length debut, but not hyperbole. Origin floats by like a message in a bottle, its lyrics like dialogue in a dream after reading a stack of old mystery comic books; the overall effect is one of spooky beauty.
Both guitarists sing: Harman Jordan is the tremulous baritone, while John Owen is the throaty bass. They take turns as storytellers, setting moods so opaque that character development and context never matter. “Cavern” is what “Isis” would be if it had been written by Edgar Allan Poe instead of Bob Dylan. “Island of the City” shimmers in its extensive expression of longing, drowned in the siren song of Miranda O’Dell and Michelle Owen. “Orphan” simmers, then boils into a slideshow about fire and fowl.
Shipwreck have consistently characterized their style as “subaquatica,” although the arid atmosphere of “Spur,” “Cactus” and “Sleeping in the Saddle” on Six Buttery Megahits EP was more consistent with desert psychedelia. Origin is somehow wetter, yet no oasis. Oil-based, it paints in muted tones with a luminous finish. Due for release July 5, Origin seems a serious contender for album of the year.