Ophelia Slowly finds Guy Blakeslee - leader of neo-psych act The Entrance Band - reflecting on Shakespeare's most tragic heroine in an artful song cycle. Produced by Chris Coady, whose credits include production for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Beach House, it emits melancholy and hope in equal doses.
Ophelia Slowly calls up the arcadian ghosts of '80s artists like Simple Minds, James, and the Waterboys. Guitars chime out over languid rhythms and dreamlike synthesizers. "Smile On," with its minimal electro beat, is easily the most optimistic cut on the album, where Blakeslee (as Hamlet) comforts the forlorn Ophelia, crooning, "Baby smile on, don't waste your time/Those doubtful dreams will only waste your mind." Such optimism is elsewhere tempered.
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The closer "Ophelia Brown" finds Blakeslee, who recently went through addiction recovery, trading hopeful stanzas like, "I wanna live long, be strong, move on/And find some peace in time," with the more rueful, "Peace it don't come easy with black Ophelia on my mind." The personalization of pacifism in this war-torn era gives Blakeslee's fragile sanity, like that of Hamlet's fair nymph, a universality everyone can relate to.