The debut from Rosie Plaza is here. The trio from Oakland CA offers indie rock in its essence, covering a range of dreamy, jangly pop to angst-filled post-punk and several layers in between. Themes of anxiety, relationship woes and troubled thoughts are explored in their lyrics. While modern indie is dominated by electronic sounds and techniques, Rosie Plaza sticks to the basics with a guitar-driven sound, capturing the 80’s to mid 90’s pallet of indie rock that invites listeners to dance and rock out in catharsis.
“Ghost” starts with an ethereal gallop that laments seeing the passing of time and spending it without having a concrete purpose: “You’re just like me / Waste away your weekends / Searching for nothing that you lost”. Laid back vocals are contrasted by an urgent drum and bass rhythms while fleeting guitars riffs capture the feeling of nostalgia and regret. “Daysleeper” moves around the same theme, following a character that is lost in their thoughts, unable to find the courage to get out of bed and be productive. It’s languid start captures the feeling of overwhelming apathy, but the song transforms after the bridge, moving to a blistering tempo, perhaps sparking a wake-up-call to change for the better.
“Days Away” moves away from the angular riffs in favor of heavy distortion. This almost-instrumental is a hypnotic mesh of shoegaze textures that ebb and flow in a restless whirlpool. The guitar work here is exceptional, something that gradually keeps getting better until the climactic end. “Left of Center” alternates between dreamy, delay-driven sounds and aggressive noise. The soft-loud dynamic is used to great extent with many rhythmic shifts, contrasting airy vocals with the pounding drums. A song that could pass up for an 80s punk alt/rock tune with nods to the Smashing Pumpkins.
The highlight of this album is its title track, which also serves as the emotional core of this collection. It sets itself apart with a more contemplative and somber mood. A highly relatable song about recurring ups and downs in a relationship without seeing any improvements at all.
Off/On is a solid debut. Each instrument plays its part so well, something that can only be achieved from a tight-knit group. There’s a DIY character to their compositions, but the production is very well defined with every sonic element put rightly in its place. Rosie Plaza has a strong foundation to build from, and should be a good addition to anyone who is a fan of the earlier days of indie rock.