Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center
Her tenderly spooky 2017 debut, Stranger In The Alps, was followed by last year’s dazzling Crosby, Stills & Nash-style Boygenius EP, cut with kindred aces Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. Now, the 24-year-old Bridgers has another low-key supergroup. The debut by Better Oblivion Community Center opens in the voice of a seasonal hire on “I Didn’t Know What I Was In For,” searching for meaning in a world so full of pain it can drive a person literally insane.
She’s soon joined by BOCC’s other half: Conor Oberst. Twenty-five years in, he’s a touchstone for a new generation, Bridgers in particular. His emo shiver has become more tremor than seizure; on his recent Ruminations and Salutations LPs, he channeled a complicated, weary dolor. The duo harmonize beautifully, Oberst’s voice often just a brooding floorboard creak behind Bridgers’ brightly bloodshot confidences (see “Chesapeake”). As personas, they’re a duo of damaged survivors, a more dissolute version of Please Like Me’s Josh and Arnold.
Bridgers has a knack for cultivating vocal collaborations. On Stranger In The Alps, John Doe added harmony on her calling card, “Killer,” and Oberst pitched in on “Would You Rather,” a haunting song about Bridgers and her little brother. More recently, she enlisted Jackson Browne on her cover of McCarthy Trenching’s “Christmas Song.” With boygenius, she’s found a harmony that’s more than the sum of its formidable parts.
As social media leaves us paradoxically more isolated than ever, the sound of voices literally finding strength together is a potent metaphor. “Big Black Hearts” locates a vaguely Bonnie-and-Clyde-ish communion in joyously ugly guitar noise, while “Dominos,” a song staggering into the thin light after an all-night bender, looks towards something less than hope, but preferable to numbness. “I’m car-pooling to kingdom come/Into the wild purgatory,” the pair sing in the wake of a gushing Nick Zinner guitar solo, clearly glad to have the company for the ride.
-Excerpt from Rolling Stone, Will Hermes
1. Didn't Know What I Was In For
3. Dylan Thomas
4. Service Road
5. Exception To The Rule
7. My City
8. Forest Lawn
9. Big Black Heart