REVIEW: OBERHOFER – TIME CAPSULES II (2012)
Welcome Dan Whitman to Mezzic today! The writer comes by way of broadcasting and TV to make his mark while in Milwaukee. Stay tuned!
I first heard Oberhofer, of all the musical destinations these days, on the radio. It was satellite radio but that did not cheapen that old time thrill of tuning through the stations and stopping on a song because it sounded new and enticing and fantastic. That’s what I heard when I stopped on a station playing the Brooklyn-via-Tacoma quartet’s track, “HEART.” It was about a third of the way through, had a catchy melody, and initially reminded me of an old favorite, Aqueduct. I liked it. After giving it a full listen, I noticed “HEART” starts almost whimsically and very harmonious but culminates grand and daunting, just exploding with sound. It tails off with a nostalgic instrumental that in many cases would feel tacked on, but I think it fits perfectly. It sort of floats you back down from the cathartic high of the song’s climax.
The lyrical theme of “HEART,” along with all of Time Capsules II, is that insanity-inducing helplessness and longing one feels when on the sour end of an ending relationship. Song by song, band founder Brad Oberhofer croons of the various stages and yearnings of the painstaking process. However, the rest of the album never really seems to reach the emotional depth found in “HEART.” There is a more playful, light-hearted vibe evident on the other tracks, especially “Landline,” “oOoO,” and “Cruising FDR.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just unexpected when the dimly-lit “HEART” is the first track on the album.
“Cruising FDR” is very reminiscent of a cheery, sun-soaked Beach Boys tune. However, the lyrical rhyming feels too clean cut and is a little distracting (“I’m cruising down FDR/ I’m driving my buddy’s car”). After a few listens, “Landline” becomes repetitive (“This time/ Last time/ This time/ Last time/ This time”) and “landline” is mentioned more than enough to where no one will have any trouble guessing what the title is. “Away Frm U” again has some too-cute rhyming (You’re pushing me away from you/ And there’s nothing I can do”), but it also has a great drum driven beat and you’ll catch yourself cranking up the volume. After listening to the more upbeat melodies of Time Capsules II, album closer, “Homebro,” is a welcomed, slower change of pace. It along with “HEART” are the more somber and honest bookends to an album otherwise focused on lightening the naturally bleak mood of the album’s theme.
Many bands try to filter the subject of love and longing through a catchy, pop tune. Model examples of course include The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those bands happen to be some of the greatest and most beloved bands of all time. It’s very difficult to make an infectious, pop song about heartbreak and longing and not lose some of the meaning and substance that made it worth writing in the first place. There’s no “I Want To Hold Your Hand” or “Ruby Tuesday” on Time Capsules II but it’s still an upbeat, bouncy record to let play on the beach or an outdoor summer gathering. Oberhofer brings honest sentiments of love and longing to Time Capsules II but much of that substance has trouble surfacing through the band’s pop melodies, repetition and rhymes. And you can’t really blame them, creating that perfect balance is no easy task.