Electronic duo Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of ODESZA return to release their latest album ‘The Last Goodbye’ after five years of anticipation. The Grammy-nominated artists are staple voices in the realm of EDM and continue to grow in popularity with over five billion streams worldwide. Their new album, released on July 22, aims to remind us about the power of connection and returning to those who love us.
Starting off their album with something reminiscent of guided meditation, ODESZA wastes no time in transporting us into a realm of epic EDM and wistfulness. The leading track “This Version of You”, featuring Julianna Barwick, sets the tone for the rest of the album: a journey into the past which never really leaves us. When ‘The Last Goodbye’ was released the pair tweeted, “Without those we love, those we’ve lost and everyone in between, this album wouldn’t exist” symbolizing the influences that overtook their creative processes to create this retrospective album, complete with songs best played for dancing.
As they did in their 2017 album ‘A Moment Apart’, ODESZA brought in eclectic and diverse voices in Charlie Houston, The Knocks, Izzy Bizu, MARO, Lapsley, and Olafur Arnolds. The title track “The Last Goodbye” features soul singer icon Bettye LaVette by sampling her 1965 single, “Let Me Down Easy”, in a transcendent song that brings you home. The duo said that they hope the track makes people question whether there ever really is a last goodbye and to them, there isn’t.
This message certainly rings true when looking at songs like my personal favorite “All My Life”, which intros with audio that seems to be from a home video of Clayton’s. “Better Now”, featuring Portuguese singer MARO, tackles the question of is it better to risk trying something with the chance of failure, or to not attempt anything at all. The answer, at least to ODESZA and MARO, is clear: absolutely. Especially with lyrics like “So what if I fall? Better that I tried instead of nothing at all.”
English singer Lapsley joined the boys on “Equal”, a powerful song with a sick bass drum that raises the simple request of “I just want to be equal”, calling for a world of justice after Lapsley came out as bisexual in 2020. ‘The Last Goodbye’ as a whole has moments of major nostalgia, like how the pair used music released long before ODESZA even started their journey. In “Behind the Sun”, they sampled “Seeb”, a Persian song from 1974, and continued to use their synth-ed-out instruments to make sounds that feel like traveling through space.
The flow of the album is varied with the first couple of tracks evoking dreamy soundscapes before the tone shifts to more traditional EDM songs that just beg to be danced to. The album returns to its classic chill vibe before ending with “Light Of Day” featuring Olafur Arnolds which starts with a soft piano melody before driving home the point that the past makes us who we are with an outro referencing another home video. While ‘The Last Goodbye’ isn’t something foreign from ODESZA’s previous works, it certainly still makes us feel connected and welcomed, like returning home after years of being away.