Albums are wonderful mediums to showcase music in diverse ways, tell a story or just showcase an artist’s musical talent; however, they rarely ever manage to do all three. “Welcome to the City of OZ” by Justin Oh is a stellar album that tells a wonderful story while managing to be diverse and enjoyable all at the same time.
Released on Oct. 8, 2020, “Welcome to the City of OZ” is filled with energy, emotion and intensity that keeps the listener hooked through its 11 songs. It features a lot of dance music, ranging from Drum n’ Bass to Ambient to Industrial and, along with several music videos, tells the story of Justin Oh, SHE, and other citizens in the City of OZ. Throughout the album, lyrics and visuals in the videos hint towards a dystopian storyline of rebellion while leaving some interpretation up to the listener.
The intro, “Genesis”, starts the album with a light, ambient melody, with some vocal chops adding more atmosphere to the track. Its rising tone adds to the tension and energy, which helps kickstart the album into action.
The next few songs create a dark and ominous section that complements the story and the music videos well. Drums help create a strong and steady beat that help drive the songs along.
“Loving Her Loving U”, starts this off by smoothly transitioning from “Genesis “and laying the groundwork. The switch up from elegant orchestrals to gritty basses work well with the lyrics, that imply that something terrible has happened. While “Don’t Bring Me Down” maintains this feel but also delivers in a more energetic way. This song helps pacing is much more active than the previous songs, and has more high notes that create a mystical, dystopian environment.
The music video also shows the City of OZ, which is perpetually raining and lit up by neon signs, adding to the dystopian feel.
“Killswitch” adds to the foreboding tone with robotic lyrics, gritty drops, and glitch effects successfully complement the tone and theming well. It nails the emotion incredibly, and the end of the track features more glitch effects that just top off the song.
Later songs are calmer and more elegant than the more brash sounds of the first part, featuring uplifting tones and elegant instrumentals.
“Remember This”, an ambient interlude, features a short motivational message from Justin Oh and a ton of people that helps add to the emotion of the track. The rising tone slowly transitions into the melody for “She’s a Killer Part 2”, the climax of the album. All the built up emotion built up throughout the album spills out into its stellar melody which is coupled with the music video that recaps the events leading up to this moment. It has a feeling of redemption that adds to the profuse emotion of the track.
“U&ME” tops off the album with a happy tune with lyrics that imply a sense of carelessness between two people. The lyrics and music video help wrap up loose ends in the story and provide a pleasant ending to an album filled with darkness.
The album continuously delivered throughout each song, but there is a slight downside, which is its short 34 minute run time. Some songs tended to feel a little short and made me want more, but that also meant that each song retained its uniqueness in the album and also didn’t feel too repetitive within the song itself.
Overall, “Welcome to the City of OZ” provides a smooth and thrilling journey while telling an intricate story in its own unique ways. Its highlights overshadow its shortcomings and help deliver an incredible audio experience.