When indie-folk singer Phoebe Bridgers released her debut full-length record ‘Stranger in the Alps’ in 2017, my interests were peaked. The album was fantastic and filled with emotional vocals, creative, sad chord progressions and the moodiness the young songwriter encapsulates so brilliantly in all of her work.
She has now teamed up with fellow folk-singer Conor Oberst, who himself has an extremely impressive track-record of five solid albums that have come before this year’s release. They blend together so well on ‘Better Oblivion Community Centre’, and ultimately end up creating a modern folk classic. The chemistry of the two singers is clear to see throughout the album and it would appear as if they were born to work together.
Album opener ‘Didn’t Know What I Was in for’ sounds sombre, yet uplifting in tone. Phoebe leads the track and begins the excellent storytelling the album offers throughout it’s runtime. The second Conor’s voice enters the song you begin to realise what a special record you’re listening to. The vocals combined together sound beautiful and jam-packed full of emotion.
The vocal performance is pretty much shared fifty-fifty and every second of it sounds perfect. Bridgers’ lends her haunting delivery to set the stage for Oberst’s more traditional country-inspired vocal on the track ‘Service Road’. This sees them shining on both a lyrical standpoint and from a purely musical level. The harmonies they achieve while singing together are different to what you’d expect from most records, giving the album a completely new feeling. The bass sounds so warm and whole on this song, only complemented further by the ongoing drum beat.
‘Dylan Thomas’ sounds like it could’ve been a Whiskey Town song. It shows the two talents working together tremendously on every level. The track completely plays to the strengths of both musicians and as the electric guitar fill kicks in, the song elevates itself to a brasher level, letting some rock ‘n’ roll roots begin to grow.
‘My City’ is proof that Bridgers and Oberst aren’t afraid to take their music down other avenues and when they do they they reign victorious. The progressive drums help the two singers fly into the more upbeat sections of the track, creating a fun sound, that once again is more of something new that nobody could’ve expected to hear on a record like this.
As you finish listening to album-closer ‘Dominos’, you’ll be eager to put the album on repeat, once again allowing yourself to explore the various types of tender sound and lyrical storytelling genius that ‘Better Oblivion Community Centre’ has to offer. Here’s to many more collaborations between the two.
All words by Jared Musson
Image sourced from Spotify