Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center review

Secret Meeting score: 75

by Philip Moss and Joseph Purcell

With things the way they are on both sides of the Atlantic, community has never been more important. And it’s in such spirt that we receive the self titled, debut record from Better Oblivion Community Center – a collaborative project from Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers.

Clearly still in the spirit of community following his stints at last summer’s PEOPLE festival, Nick Zinner lends a hand on the swaggering, garage rock of Dylan Thomas – its chorus guaranteed to lodge itself firmly in your psyche. However, it’s the record’s more poignant tracks that are its best. Chesapeake is undoubtedly the fulcrum moment – a magnificently gentle affair that equates to anything either Oberst or Bridgers have ever written. Then, it’s a trio of Oberst led tracks – Service Road, Forest Lawn and closer, Dominos – that are the record’s other standouts.

Despite Bridgers being no stranger to collaborations – she was of course involved with the excellent boygenius ep last year, this surprise release sees her contributions rather mixed. Opener, Didn’t Know What I Was in For, on which she takes the lead, is beautiful, and in fact goes on to showcase the true potential that pair’s vocals, when entwined can have. But Exception to the Rule is throwaway and borders on 90s emo and Avril Lavigne territory.

This is a record that celebrates the very essence of collaboration and togetherness. When it clicks, it offers both special and fun moments. It just doesn’t always equal or improve upon the sum of the parts.

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