Barry Dolan created Oxygen Thief in 2006 in Bristol, United Kingdom as a solo acoustic artist drawing inspiration from punk, folk, and rock. A lot has changed over his career thus far: the project evolved from a one-man band into a three-piece, and the acoustic sound morphed into a heavier electric outfit. Dolan has also gathered a following of loyal fans who relate to the diverse range of subjects in the lyrics, which he covers with a deft turn of phrase.
Confusion Species is a fine example of Dolan’s skills, though the record is an acquired taste. From start to finish it is full of distorted guitar riffs, heavy drums, and deep bass, all held tightly together by Dolan’s unique vocals that tread the line between spoken word and singing. The opening track, “End of Pier Pressure”, encapsulates the very essence of Dolan’s writing: a descriptive tale that many will relate to, involving the process of changing your mind after being so certain that you were right before. With each tune, Dolan maintains an aggressive approach and his vocals are raw, do not holding back or sugarcoating any of the points he is putting across.
To some listeners’ untrained ears, Oxygen Thief’s music might be “Lost In The Post”.
Some stand out tracks are “Troublethink”, which covers the very relatable subject of struggling against yourself, the line “we’re fighting a battle of wits against ourselves and losing somehow” hits very close to home, and “Suspension Bridge of Disbelief”, a fine example of the musical talent that complements the lyrics. The latter has fast, distorted guitar riffs, fast drumming, and gang vocals to support the honesty from Dolan’s pen. It captures the very essence of what punk really is!
The truth is, Oxygen Thief is a difficult listen and takes time to really get into, this is largely due to Dolan’s vocal style, but also the way tunes on this album do not follow any kind of conventional path and flow in most unconventional of ways. It cannot be denied, Dolan really is talented, his lyrics are full of passion and the music backing these vocals reflects and complements the raw energy they exert. Conceptually, Confusion Species is a thought-provoking stroke of genius, but it is far from the sort of album you can throw on in the background.
Get comfy and check out the band’s “Graffiti; Irony; Lists” lyric video.
Confusion Species Track Listing:
01. End of the Pier Pressure
02. Atheist Dior
03. Uncommon People
05. Suspension Bridge of Disbelief
06. Rubbish Life is Modern
07. I Used to be Elephants
08. Lost in the Post –
09. Graffiti; Irony; Lists
10. You Snooze You Lose
11. Practice Makes Perspex
Run Time: 32:38
Release Date: November 16, 2018
Record Label: Xtra Mile Recordings