Review: Better Oblivion Community Center by Better Oblivion Community Center

Better Oblivion Community Center by Better Oblivion Community CenterIt’s not an unlikely collaboration: apart from Conor Oberst popping up in a lot of places lately, and Phoebe Bridgers being hot property in the past year, the two actually worked together in one song on her acclaimed debut Stranger in the Alps. Now, under the name Better Oblivion Community Center, the two come together for a record that comes together comfortably and effortlessly, both in sound and in theme. The concept – the aforementioned community center – doesn’t weigh in heavily, at least not as much as why someone would go there, and what one would do once inside: get lost in his thoughts and try, really try, to find common ground with anyone else. The songs on the record can be uppity – again, unsurprising – but there’s an undercurrent of fatalism running through, of being ultimately alone despite all this, and the seemingly futile effort to find someone to share the burden with. And yet it is an uppity record: tight, flows nicely. Is this the ideal scenario? Is Conor and Phoebe coming together the somewhat utopian end result? I don’t know. I’m wallowing, and this feels really nice. [NB]4/5

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Review: Salutations by Conor Oberst

Salutations by Conor OberstWell, the clue was in the title. Salutations is the partner album, more or less, to Ruminations, Conor Oberst’s moody and occasionally claustrophobic release last year. That one embraced you with a feeling of being alone that, while completely different from the rest of his oeuvre, made enough sense for you to go with it. And then, with Salutations, Conor proceeds to recontextualize the entire album: its ten tracks were rerecorded with a full band, its order mixed around, and seven new songs added. Perhaps the point is the duality: how different the same thing can be when dressed differently, presented differently, perceived differently. Perhaps the point is a clever subversion – not denial, I hope – of everything Ruminations went for, a jubilant “up yours!” achieved by taking one thing, shattering it, and putting it back together, cracks and all. Perhaps it is I who’s missing the point. But since we’re talking about perceptions here: I don’t see the point. It feels shallow, whatever the intention is, and its length tests my patience to boot. [NB]3/5