The Orion Experience return from a 7-year long hiatus with Fever Dream, a sparkling, psychedelic roller disco hit.
The band was first formed in 2005 in New York, led by singers and long-time friends Orion Simprini (he/her) and Linda Horwatt (she/they). In 2014, the band went inactive, with both lead singers focusing on solo projects instead. However, in recent years, they have enjoyed increased success and internet fame with their debut album Cosmicandy becoming increasingly popular. Songs like ‘Cult of Dionysus’, ‘Obsessed With You’ and ‘Blood & Money’ have become online hits, particularly with younger members of the online LGBTQ+ community. As a response to this, the band have returned and released the new album Fever Dream, a collection of summer hits, the album is described on their band camp as ‘a retrospective of T.O.E.’s musical influences.’
A ‘divinely-inspired’ hyper-pop collection of songs, Fever Dream draws on the band’s previous albums, musical influences as well as the support and experiences of their Starchildren (a nickname for the fanbase). The album directly challenges cis-heteronormative gender expectations and ‘transports you to the psychedelic roller disco in your mind’. Like previous albums, Fever Dream brings infectious positivity and irresistibly catchy harmonies that are impossible not to sing along or dance to. The band have perfectly captured the sound and aesthetic of 1970s glam rock/disco with delightfully modern and futuristic twists.
The album’s opening track is a rebellious Glam rock anthem. All Dolled Up is a song that challenges the gender binary from the outset.
‘It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world
I don’t wanna be a boy, I don’t wanna be a girl.’
Opening with a direct reference to Lola by The Kinks, a band cited as one of T.O.E’s musical inspirations, and an iconic line sung by Linda XO, the song starts off strong. It’s easy to see why this song was chosen as the lead single and opening track. An LGBTQ+ anthem, with lyrics that are explicitly queer, it encourages listeners to fearlessly and freely express themselves and is reportedly inspired by the creative and largely LGBTQ+ fanbase the band has amassed; it is a ‘celebration of the time-honoured tradition of putting on lots of glitter before a night out on the town.’ All Dolled Up certainly does just that, an incredibly catchy feel-good pop song, the track kicks the album off with a bop.
Like many pop groups, many of the band’s songs are about love, though for me there’s something about the way The Orion Experience do love songs that just hits different to other pop groups. Though each song treats the theme differently and is each about a different type of love, ranging from toxic relationships to love of self and community, the theme is prevalent in the band’s works yet never feels repetitive or overused, and Digital Affection is no exception.
The second song and the second single released, Digital Affection is slightly more slowed down than the high, upbeat and rebellious energy of All Dolled Up; it’s the perfect love song for the modern age, particularly a world plunged into multiple lockdowns with more and more aspects of life becoming increasingly online. Written remotely over the summer, the song was ‘inspired by real-life stories of their young fanbase transcending physical barriers to forge meaningful connections, making friends and finding love.’ A romantic and dreamily ethereal song, it’s the perfect mix of the 1970s psychedelic influences and the modern age. Sparkling electric guitar solos, synth and the intertwined harmonies of Orion and Linda XO give the song an otherworldly, romantic quality that will ‘take listeners on a metaphysical journey through the circuits and neurons of their interconnected minds.’
Possibly the most interesting song on the album, popular among the fanbase, and a personal favourite of mine is Cosmicandy Girl. A very meta song, Cosmicandy Girl is an expansion on the lore of the band’s official mascot in the form of an electro-pop disco anthem.
First appearing on the album cover art for Cosmicandy in 2005, Cosmicandy Girl has captured the imagination of the band and fans alike. To fans, she has become a bisexual, polyamorous icon, with many fans creating fanart for the character or even cosplaying as her. Orion Simprini describes the origin of her character in an AMA livestream, streamed on the band’s YouTube and Twitch on the October 16th pre-release of the album. Simprini describes the character as ‘whimsical, magical, the most glamourous rockstar – all the confidence in the world.’ All this energy is reflected in the song – an addictive, catchy, electro-pop bop. The lyrics expand the character’s lore, giving her a ‘pink Cosmicandy Cat’ and ‘Her Crystal Palace, yeah, it’s quite fantastical / A floating Discothèque where every room is magical.’ Like All Dolled Up, the lyrics in Cosmicandy Girl are fantastically queer, confirming her as a bisexual polyamorous character; ‘Her boyfriend’s hair is made of stars / Her girlfriend plays bass guitar in The Spiders from Mars.’ Orion further expands the character’s lore in the livestream, stating that she is a demi-god from the same universe as Cthulhu who doesn’t remember where she’s from but floats around the universe in her Crystal Palace with her pink Cosmicandy cat, spreading love and glamour.
With a character so thought out and a character anthem so upbeat and catchy, it’s easy to imagine her as the protagonist of an 80s cartoon series or to wish for a graphic novel series about her. The song itself is glittery, spacey and otherworldly; it takes the 70s disco theme of the album to another level and perfectly encapsulates the aesthetic. Full of electric guitar and synth, it really is the perfect bubble-gum pop hit for an all-inclusive roller disco in space.
Two Linda XO songs feature on the album, Night Eyes and Honeysuckle Kisses. Both give a punkier feel reminiscent of Blondie, Kim Gordon or Joan Jett. Night Eyes is a seductive, hypnotic song that is impossible not to dance to and Honeysuckle Kisses is the punkier, more high energy love song. Both stick to the overall 1970s theme of the album, an aesthetic that becomes particularly prominent in the song Roll With Me.
A literal roller disco banger, Roll With Me is the only song on the album with a music video. The video stars the Heartbreakers Club (@theheartbreakersclubb on Instagram), a group of roller-skaters. The video itself is very 1970s, complete with flares, mullets and roller disco; the perfect accompaniment to a catchy, high energy and super fun roller song – guaranteed to get fans lacing up their skates.
The final and title track of the album, Fever Dream, is an 8-minute long epic. Mostly instrumental with very few lyrics, the song is a highly cinematic piece reminiscent of Pink Floyd or Muse. The music is haunting, ethereal and gives the impression of floating through space or astral projecting.
The Orion Experience set out to write ‘a roller-skating, disco dance record that’s fun and free,’ and that’s exactly what they delivered – a 70s disco album full of dreamy, high-energy songs that are perfect for falling in love at the roller disco.