WKNH Music Director
Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers are both well-defined and articulate songwriters in their own right.
Oberst already cemented himself as a certified legend as the emo iconoclast Bright Eyes back in the late nineties.
He has also been in American underground songwriting supergroup The Monsters of Folk with My Morning Jacket with frontman Jim James, as well as politically charged rock band Desaparecidos.
Suffice to say, Oberst has had a long career.
Bridgers, on the other hand, is a greener luminary on the national music stage, though no less bright.
Her debut record, “Stranger in The Alps” came out last year and has been making waves ever since, with a stellar NPR Tiny Desk Concert and making it onto many best of the year lists, both published and personal.
The two songwriters, whose relationship as artists started in 2016 when Bridgers opened up for Oberst on the road, have teamed up and released a record together: “Better Oblivion Community Center” by Better Oblivion Community Center.
And what a stellar record it is. I find its greatest strength is how each song flows into one another, pulling you along the entire runtime of the record without struggle.
The singers balance well against each other, neither taking over the other.
Their lyrical identities balance together as well. The lyrics are smart and loose, creating familiar and well worn images to feel so many feelings about.
Though I am more familiar with Bridgers than I am Oberst’s more recent output, I can attest to the fact that this record is a wholly different experience than “Stranger in the Alps.”
It is familiar still, but a separate experience.
The record hits a lot of textural areas and a variety of styles, from the jazzy to the harsh and aggressive.
It is this quality which helps to make the record such an easy end-to-end listen. It opens with Bridgers singing sweetly in cryptic and vivid lyrics over ambling acoustic guitars, swells of something swelling underneath.
The next track ramps things up considerably with a loping rock tune lead by Oberst.
There is something for everyone here. A song like “Chesapeake” has our singer harmonizing over gentle guitars and organs.
Each song is exceptional in its own way for its own reason, and yet they still all fit together in their sequence.
It’s very much worth a listen.
Check it out on your music platform of preference.
Coraline Seksinsky can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org