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Obits keep it simple on stellar new album

Brooklyn rockers release Moody, Standard and Poor




Moody, Standard and Poor

(Sub Pop)

Obits is a wonderful band precisely because they aren't trying to reinvent the wheel. The guiding motto of the band's sophomore album, Moody, Standard and Poor, seems to be: "Rock has been rolling along perfectly well for many years, thank you very much, and we don't need to muck it up with a bunch of extraneous bullshit."

This is an album of clean, melodic guitars paired to muscular and sinewy bass, dead-ahead rhythms and a sense of purpose. Things kick off with the slight swagger and bluesy aggression of "You Gotta Lose," and its paired bass-guitar hook inspires instant familiarity. The way the guitars switch from tight syncopation to loose and resonant strumming as the band moves from chorus to verse is a propulsive bit of expand-collapse dynamism, and it makes the song breathe. The vaguely surfish guitars of the echo-drenched "Everything Looks Better in the Sun" shimmer brightly enough to make the slightly off-kilter guitars feel welcoming, bending through mini-solo riff shots and ending with a capstone whammy. The slow burn and fuzzy chug of "Shift Operator" initially feels like the odd man out, but then the song breaks into the down-tuned chorus, which both opens the song up and implodes it under the weight of odd, minor-key changes and spacey atmospherics. The whole thing takes on a carnival funhouse feeling then rolls back into its steady plod.

Next go round, the funhouse feel is stripped away and replaced by brightly chiming Neil Young-meets-Chuck Berry guitars. It's a good example of how unformulaic Obits' formula can feel. "No Fly List" brings things back to base, pairing an angry rant against downright giddy 1/3 guitars and a driving bottom end. "I Blame Myself" caps the album nicely with echoing, spiraling, wah-distorted guitars and an accompanying sense of surfer mysticism, like some sort of long lost Clapton/Ventures tape.

Obits don't exactly roll the dice on this one, but the rock they roll out is too exciting and fun for that to be a concern.

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