For his sophomore release as a solo artist, following a lengthy run in local rap-rock gang, MicLordz & Sauce Funky, Mike O’Phee has finally found his natural groove. In MLSF, O’Phee was one half of a powerful duo of front men, alongside longtime collaborator Boots. On his debut album, Color Blind, from last year, O’Phee still held onto some of his old school comfort zones. He rapped a lot of his dialogue and it came across more Kid Rock lite than he was truly capable. But on Clairvoyancy, O’Phee has finally emerged as a viable solo performer and not just “The Guy from MicLordz”.
Working alongside producer Luc Michaud from Highland Studios, O’Phee has created a summertime mixtape, full of eleven different anthems that scream to be heard at outdoor festivals at dusk and in stadiums with fireworks. It opens with a retro rocker “Sunshine On The World” (with a catchy nod to The Bangles thrown in) and follows with the country rocker “One More Bottle” (that sounds like a collaboration between Sloan and Sublime). “Early Rise” is a McCartney-esque singalong anthem with some Wings-like changes coupled with large choruses. But, like much of the album, tinged with that Rose City soul that sounds like a Southerner rocker singing soul.
The album is soaked in such an overwhelming positivity, which isn’t surprising if you know the genuine positivity he exudes when you’re around him. “So Pretty To Me” follows that vibe and is the perfect early 90’s BritPop bop-a-long love song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Stereograss album. “Realign” is a soulful rocker, and in a sad coincidence, “Makin’ Love Tonight” feels like a feelgood homage to the Purple One’s best simple pop songs, if “Darling Nikki” was more the temp of “Kiss”. O’Phee takes a veer into concept song with “Buen Camino”, a multi-part journey, complete with orchestra and the big harmonies. Easily one of the album’s highlights. “Thinking of You” should be huge. I mean overplayed till your sick of it huge. It’s a simple but powerful pop song, with a great hook and an infectious chorus. Even people who hate the song will have it stuck in their head for days.
Usually by the third act, most albums start to wind it down. But Clairvoyancy is determined to keep the party going. While it lacks the emotional oomph of the last three songs, it by no means deflates. “Angels & Demons” is a bouncy little number then jumps into the Black Crowes Southern Soul of “Lucky”. The album closes with a beautiful ode to his mother, aptly titled “Coffee with Mom”. While it feels odd at first, hearing such an honest song sung to such an overlooked topic, it almost feels too cheesy. But in a world with so much negativity, it’s refreshing to hear something so genuinely honest for once.
Now I should be quite clear. If you’re thing is obscure math rock or dub step, then this is probably not up your alley. You’ve been warned. But if you’re looking for something easy to have fun to, whether it’s as the soundtrack to backyard party or on your Blu Tooth in the car on a county trek, then this is your album.
AlerG is dead. Long live Mike O’Phee