Obits – Moody, Standard and Poor (Music Review)
When the Obits’ first album I Blame You appeared in 2009, it was a breath of fresh air. Two years later, their follow-up Moody, Standard and Poor is much like a second breath of that exact same fresh air. It’s as good as the first one in many ways, but just doesn’t feel nearly as vital.
It’s kind of strange to complain about the album sounding too similar to anything, given how unique the band’s sound is. A bass-heavy, blues-informed garage band, they have a punk energy but the clean sound and slightly abstract lyrics of an indie blues band. Singer Rick Froberg has an intense scream that demands attention, but the taut, frequently-evolving music is what sticks in the listener’s mind. The Obits deserve comparisons to Boston in their accomplishment of creating a distinctive, immediately recognizable sound on their debut.
If anything, Moody, Standard and Poor dials down the musical intensity slightly and explores slightly wider ground lyrically, but this is so subtle that it’s hard to tell if it was intentional. That may be a fertile direction for future Obits albums, but in this one, it just sounds like a collection of second-best songs from the same session as I Blame You. It’s even shorter than that album, at a slim 35 minutes.
The similarities mean that the sound is still great, at least. There isn’t a single minute of filler, and the new songs are welcome. They range from the introspective and (slightly) slow-paced “New August”, which takes time to build a groove, to the angry “No Fly List”, which proves that the band can incorporate punk rock intensity when they want. The mostly instrumental “Spot the Pikey”, with surf riffs leading up to an almost-bored group reciting the song title, has a sense of humor not previously shown.
There are definitely multiple possibilities for evolution in the group’s future. Obviously, it will still sound reminiscent of these past albums, and in some ways it’s unfair to punish them for having developed such an original sound already. But it will be necessary for the Obits to recapture the thrill of discovery and claim the excitement that their style deserves.