We all miss David Bowie, don’t we? If there was anybody on the local scene more fit to craft a tribute than the twisted indie-pop duo Quintessential Octopus, it would be hard to imagine who. Naturally, the song “Bowie” bypasses the Anthony Newleyism’s of his early career and also his later arena rock persona and dives right into the angular, detached art-rock of his Berlin period. Well, close to it, anyway: As the first song on their new EP, “Bowie” basically puts “Station to Station” in a trash compactor and gets it over with in 2 minutes 42—which is sort of their modus operandi. It also explains why the song segues right into a tender ballad named “Food Dreams,” picking up the remnants of the late great millennial emo scene. Like the Thin White Duke, restlessness is their watchword.
The Octopus follow up their excellent debut Mother with five short exercises in this musical restlessness: humanistic, but relentlessly exploring. If you need a single, or standout for your playlist, you can pick “Saddle,” which captures the thrilling offhand innocence of early MGMT. Or you can challenge yourself with the inscrutable psychobilly disco of the closing “Dean Koontz.” Hard to tell if that’s a homage, but these guys are proving themselves to be anything but hacks.