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Album Review

Taking 30 song foundations into the studio, improvising upon them, and then whittling down a double album's worth of material to 13 tracks that fly under the four-minute mark, Oxford Collapse's fourth album and second for Sub Pop finds them replacing the clean sheen provided by John Agnello on Remember the Night Parties with a rough-and-tumble, spontaneous vibe. Recorded by Eric Emm (Don Caballero) and Chad Matheny in numerous New York spaces, the Brooklyn boys maintain their hipster sensibilities and flip between speedy grit and sweetheart pop, with varied results. Presumably, when the bandmembers picked their handful of songs to be used, they went straight for either their most straightforward alt-rock numbers or for their more ambitious ideas. This leaves the record uneven, with the trio at its best when sticking to raw jangling numbers, '80s left-of-center ditties, and '90s indie/alternative rockers in the styles of Superchunk and Sloan. "Electric Arc," "Young Love Delivers," and especially "The Birthday Wars" are prime examples of their muscular-but-sweet fuzz pop, and make for some career classics, but curve balls into cutesy territory like the cello-violin-vocal ballad "A Wedding" come off as experimental just for the sake of trying something different. Some of the gambles work out, like when they tear a page out of the Apples in Stereo songbook for "Featherbeds," or build on a staccato woodpecker beat with airy vocals and orchestral flourishes in "B-Roll," but Oxford shine brightest when they stick to what they know best: simple axe-wielding, wood-splintering, college rock jams.

Biography

Formed: 2001 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Finding the link between the dark and angular side of the synth pop scene and the equally off-kilter indie rock of the '90s, Oxford Collapse came out of Brooklyn, NY, with a fiery and unique sound. Performing all over their particular burg, Michael Pace (guitar/vocals), Dan Fetherston (drums), and Yong Sing da Silva (bass) released their self-titled debut EP in 2002. In 2003, da Silva left the band to continue his education, and bassist Mike Henry stepped in. Their first full-length, the eccentric...
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