Odds went on hiatus after Craig Northey left the band in 1999 and it wasn’t until 2007 that a comeback began to build. Steven Drake’s (the band’s 2nd singer/guitarist/songwriter) career as a music producer/ engineer had taken off so he remained the only holdout as OG members Northey, Doug Elliott, and Pat Steward, teamed with guitarist Murray Atkinson to perform new songs together.
The following year Cheerleader, Odd’s first album with new material in 13 years, was ready for release. There was just one problem. Their rights to the name ‘Odds’ had lapsed. Northey decided to put the album under the moniker ‘The New Odds’ with the joke being how it was (mostly) the old band getting back together. Many missed the joke and the album altogether. It’s a bit of a shame since I found it to be a rather solid power-pop album.
The opening track, Clouds Full of Rocks, lets you know that Northey’s brand of what some call quirky lyrics (I like clever myself) hasn’t missed a beat. He describes a chance meeting with a cute girl on an airplane as “a romantic comedy with an awkward way for the lovers to meet”. Until he finds out that she is a manipulator and “she’ll make you fly a plane into a cloud full of rocks.” Love it.
Even when Northey’s lyrics are about a subject I can’t personally connect with like in the song Out of Time, which is about a guy taking a bus to score drugs downtown. I’m not judging, I’m just too much of a square to relate, lol. The imagery he creates within the scene, such as the good-looking redhead girl who enters the bus… yeah. He then switches gears to the character tuning everyone else out during the ride:
Bus ride with my headphones on
Safe from any conversation
Car horn breaks me free of the fog
Or was it just on the ipod
This has happened to me countless times while listening to a song or a podcast. Where did that car horn or siren come from? My retelling of the lyrics here doesn’t do them justice though. Northey’s phrasing and how he repeats “just on the ipod” really sell how the character is snapped out of a daydream moment. I wish I could think of concepts and write lyrics like these.
I also really like Breakthrough which I hope isn’t too autobiographical. It is about a guy putting his family aside as he is about to make a breakthrough with his art. His family hates him for it.
And I’m so glad to see Write It In Lightning get the full Odds treatment. Originally written for The Who, the song first appeared on Northey’s solo album Giddy Up but in an unfinished state. Here, the song is properly rounded out with drummer Pat Steward hammering out Keith Moon-like fills. If Pete and Rog are not going to record it, at the very least this song got a chance to shine somewhere. It is awesome.
While the lyrics on Cheerleader are brilliant, I suppose the only element that might hold the album back is a big song with a hook for radio. Even with the bonus addition of My Happy Place, the song that is played at the end of every episode of Corner Gas added in, none from this album made a dent anywhere. While its songs have grown on me, especially the funkiness of Jumper, I can admit how there is none that would really grab me out of the gate like Eat My Brain or Heterosexual Man had done in the past. But, I really can’t say for sure.
Perhaps 13 years was too long to come out with a follow-up to Nest and if Cheerleader came out in 1999, some of its tunes would have more airplay on Canadian Radio than It Falls Apart. And yes. I just checked Q107’s playlist and they last played it at 9:43AM today. Bless the robotic algorithm that tells Canadian radio stations to continue to play the same song from Odds every day. Man, I miss real DJs on the radio.
The odds are you need more Odds/Craig Northey/Strippers Union in you:
[Album Review] Odds | Neopolitan
[Album Review] Odds | Bedbugs
[Album Review] Odds | Good Weird Feeling
[Album Review] Odds | Nest
[Album Review] Craig Northey | Giddy Up
[Album Review] Northey Valenzuela
[Album Review] Strippers Union | Stripper’s Union Local 518
[Album Review] The New Odds | Cheerleader
[Album Review] Strippers Union | The Deuce
[EP Review] Odds | The Most Beautiful Place On Earth
[EP Review] Odds | Game Face On
[EP Review] Odds | Party Party Party
[Album Review] Strippers Union | 3- The Undertaking