Oh Pep! - I Wasn't Only Thinking About You... - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Oh Pep! - I Wasn't Only Thinking About You...

by Bill Golembeski Rating:8 Release Date:2018-10-26
Oh Pep! - I Wasn't Only Thinking  About You...
Oh Pep! - I Wasn't Only Thinking About You...

Somebody “had too much sex in Norway.”

How’s that for a conversation starter?

Well, it’s actually a cryptic lyric from the equally cryptic song “What’s the Deal with David,” which starts with a bit of resonator old-time guitar sound and then explodes into a wild ride of pop music with the band’s folky fringe (like that really cool coat Neil Young wore in his Buffalo Springfield Days) pretty much gone. The tune has the rush of “a head hanging out of a moving train,” I suppose it could be a soundtrack to that Turner watercolor Rain, Steam and Speed.  And when the song morphs into greater compression with the confessional bit of “I wasn’t even dancing, or looking, or trying” several times over, the song orbits into pop perfection.

Fans of Sweden’s First Aid Kit will like this record.

But, once upon a time, I thought The Beths’ “You Wouldn’t Like Me” was my favorite song I’d love to hear on the car radio.

But, once upon another time, I thought that HMS Morris’ “Dai at Night” was my favorite song heard on that very same radio.

But, once upon yet another time, I thought Seasaw’s “Big Dogs” was my (yet another) favorite radio song of the moment.

But, holy cow, and once upon this time, I love the penultimate track, “Your Nail and Your Hammer.” This is sublime pop music, with incessant percussion, an overdrive melodic vocal, descending and deflating backing voices that cushion the tune, and a heavenly “bang-bang” sing-a-long chorus that punctuates  the words of my friend, Kilda Defnut, who always says, “Don’t choose a favorite song until Gretel pushes that witch into the oven, frees Hansel from his cage, grabs the treasure, takes some sort of duck ride home, and listens to all the great music in the final moments of any Grimm’s Fairy Tale happy ending of any year.”

So, I guess, as Kilda also often says, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

But back to front: the first song, “25,” is a big production tune with strings wrapped in swaddling cloth pop with an absolutely glorious vocal. It’s like watching the Arora Borealis. The same is true “Asking For.” This is explosive and melodious music.

“Hurt Nobody” returns to a Tiny Desk folk sound with even more incessant percussion. And it is in juxtaposition to the other songs that are engulfed with pop’s euphoria.

“Truths” gets rocky in a deep depth sort of way, and is, perhaps, a bit too much of a ballad for my taste.

“Up Against the World” dips and swells in its roller coaster ride harmony as vocalist Olivia Hally gets echoed chambered or double-tracked. While those vocals are beautiful, that production does lose some of the expected intimacy I heard in those before-mentioned Tiny Desk performances. 

Ahh, but “Parallel” is (almost) folk music paradise. Guitars strum with simplicity. Pepita Emmerichs’ violin caresses the dreamy melody. This a lovely song.

“Bleeding Hearts” is brisk, alive, and pulses through the veins of pop and folk. The Roches come to mind.  This music may well free Hanzel from his cage. And then “There Will Be a Riot” is a deep and languid finish to the album. Vocals soar and guitars strum with patience.

This is an extremely well-produced pop album. It’s a beautiful record. But no one is wearing folky fringed jackets here, or for that matter, rockin’ in the free world. That said, it’s a wonderful listen filled with great choruses, lovely vocals, funhouse violin rides, and a whole lot of melodic ephemeral stuff, the stuff with the intangible touch of Rapunzel’s hair that unravels its locks into the grooves of this rather lovely pop fairy tale of an album.

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