ODESZA reaffirm their place in dance music’s pantheon with ‘The Last Goodbye’
It’s been five long years since Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight put out a body of work under the ODESZA masthead. The Seattle-based duo’s last LP, A Moment Apart, not only won over ODESZA listeners, but also critics, upon its release in September 2017. Their third studio album would go on to debut at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 before securing nominations for “Best Dance/Electronic Album” and “Best Dance Recording” (for track five, “Line of Sight”) at the 60th annual Grammy Awards.
In the context of the past decade in dance/electronic music, A Moment Apart is undoubtedly one of the most impactful albums released by an artist in this genre. Its corresponding live show, complete with a full drum line and brass section, only furthered the sonic story behind the LP. With their junior long-form project and its accompanying live translation, ODESZA unequivocally secured their place in the dance music pantheon, following past albums, Summer’s Gone (2012) and In Return (2014).
ODESZA’s return to the release ring in 2020 alongside Golden Features as BRONSON was surprising, to say the least. The duo, known for its uplifting beats, turned to a grittier sound that culminated in one of the highest-quality albums in a year downtrodden by the COVID-19 pandemic. During a year when the music industry was shaken to its core, ODESZA found a way to hearten listeners by harnessing the power of music, all while demonstrating the diversity of their production palate. BRONSON was everything fans could have wanted, but it’s worth remembering that people like to have their cake and eat it too, prompting the question, “when would ODESZA come back?”
It didn’t take long for the answer to surface. In December of 2020, not long after the release of BRONSON, Mills and Knight posted a simple message to their Instagram: “studio break.” The confirmation that ODESZA werre alive and well was all fans needed to get the hype train rolling on the tracks. And now, more than a year and a half later, ODESZA’s fourth studio album, The Last Goodbye, has hit digital streaming platforms.
ODESZA first introduced fans to the LP with the eponymous lead single featuring Betty LaVette. Initially, the dance/electronic community was taken aback by its title; some surmised that Mills and Knight were gesturing to the end of an era—ODESZA. But Mills and Knight were quick to reaffirm they were going nowhere in a quote tweet.
The second preview of The Last Goodbye came in the form of “Better Now, featuring MARO. It was followed by four ensuing singles, “Love Letter” featuring The Knocks, “Behind The Sun,” “Wide Awake” featuring Charlie Houston, and “Light Of Day” featuring Ólafur Arnalds. The six singles shed light on what to expect from the 13-track LP, but as to be expected, they didn’t tell the whole story.
Like all of ODESZA’s work, The Last Goodbye is best enjoyed in sequential order. To fully appreciate the story that ODESZA have sown across the 50 minutes and 32 seconds that comprise their senior album, listeners need to first take this approach, even if they deviate from it in subsequent run throughs. Altogether, what listeners leave with is not only a deeper appreciation for ODESZA and their body of work, but also the profound affect that music can have on a person. The Last Goodbye is moving and personal; it strikes a chord that is hard to hit in music in general, let alone in dance music.
With the full album out for the world to hear, the first chapter of The Last Goodbye experience has come to a close. The next begins on July 29 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, which will mark ODESZA’s first performance since their A Moment Apart finale in Los Angeles in July 2019. During the last weekend of July, ODESZA will take the stage in their hometown of Seattle for three sold-out nights at Climate Pledge Arena. The trifecta of shows kickstarts a 36-stop headlining tour across many of America’s most prestigious venues, including The Forum in Los Angeles, The Armory in Minneapolis, and Forest Hills Stadium in New York.
The duo’s live performances have taken on something of a mythical quality. Their live edits, unreleased tracks, and fusion of live elements to match expert mixing have made for an in-person experience that simply cannot be missed. It’s a show that has never been officially recorded and uploaded, in line with ODESZA’s mission to preserve the sanctity of their one-of-a-kind live, in-person experience. And while the formal release of The Last Goodbye closes one chapter, ODESZA’s audience can rest assured knowing that there never really is a last goodbye—the next chapter is only just beginning.
Featured image: Alexander