Release Date: Aug 5, 2008
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Classic, exuberant indie rock offers alternative to the modern, dour varietyFrom Arcade Fire to Death Cab for Cutie, today’s hottest indie and post-indie bands traffic in polish and gravity, while classic indie rock’s slapdash gusto subsides. But there apparently remain some bands who remember “college rock,” the distinguishing characteristics of which included having one or two guys who could kinda sing belting their hearts out; lots of raw, jangling riffage; and joyously nonsensical lyrics. Brooklyn’s Oxford Collapse is among them.
Oxford Collapse may be Sub Pop’s first Brooklyn signees, but the threesome share more in common with DIY punk bands on Sub Pop’s early-'90s roster than with the Brooklyn indie cognoscenti. The band’s loose, shambling pop-punk serves as a drunk kiss to youthful indiscretion -- Oxford Collapse are that twentysomething guy at your college job who came to all your house parties, got messed up on your Blatz, passed out at 9:30 p.m., and the next day apologized profusely for pissing on your couch. Bits, Oxford Collapse’s fourth album, is as much about real-world inebriation as the band’s previous album (2006’s Remember the Nights Parties) focused entirely on the subject.
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.
Oxford Collapse is a throwback – to a time when indie rock didn't involve harps and trumpets, to a time when indie rock performers were smart people but not necessarily very good musicians, to a time when you could write pop songs that people liked and yet not really have any idea, yourself, why they worked. Oxford Collapse doesn't sound like any one band in particular, but they do sound like the sort of band that might have been popular in the 1990s, only to disappear in the new millennium, as if the Y2K bug had snarfed them or something. Think Archers of Loaf, or Boyracer (who are actually still around), or Superchunk.