ALBUM REVIEW: People Problems (Oh No Oh My)

26 Jul

People Problems is the first new music that Texas band Oh No Oh My (now minus the exclamation marks that originally punctuated their name) have released in three years. The follow up to one album and two EPs, the band themselves have said that People Problems is what they feel to be their first ‘real’ album, as the debut self-titled album was likened more to a lot of songs thrown together onto a CD.

Oh No Oh My, the album, was a fun, silly effort – nothing spectacular, but light-hearted and earning the band a ‘goofball’ moniker. This is exactly the kind of tagline that Oh No Oh My as a band are now trying to depart from with the latest release. This is undeniably an ambitious mood for what is, after all, only their second album.

The main difference from their previous efforts is that the album has a more melancholic sound, but it seems almost as though they’re trying for this. An adult sound, but adult like a seventeen year old with slightly too much make-up and a fake ID – like the sound didn’t evolve as naturally as it could have done. It sounds a little like Oh No Oh My got an idea in their head and worked steadily towards that, without allowing the creative process to take hold and breathe. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it the album just doesn’t feel as easy as it could do, and there’s a sense of control which really holds the songs back. An overly intentional sense of the whimsy, which sometimes does seem to border on contrived.

That’s not to say that People Problems isn’t a good album – it is. So I Took You, for example, is on first listen incredibly fun. The music sounds like something which would not be amiss on a quirky indie-comedy soundtrack and starts off innocently enough, but the abrupt ending is the first indicator that something is not quite right. And on second (and third, and fourth) listen, it soon becomes apparent that what at first seemed like a catchy, simple song is actually about a knife-wielding killer who kidnaps a girl. Not exactly unsettling, but definitely an interesting contrast.

However, No Time For Talk is a stomping and summery song that that definitely reflects the overall tone of the album, as if it’s decided what it wants to be but can’t quite get there – instead, it straddles the line between melancholy and wistful in a way that can only be described as ‘inoffensive’.

With Brains, the band seem to present their first reach into something more. As with everything else, Brains is interesting and easy enough to listen to but there’s a sense this could be something entirely different and instead seems too satisfied with what is already is. There’s potential but it continually falls short.

People Problems is airy and light, but there is a definite sense where the music brushes pop but is immediately reigned back in, as if Oh Me Oh My are afraid to let themselves get carried away. The band state that this is where they started, but it feels more like they’re fighting too hard to get away from the fun pop sound that they seem so anxious to brush off – and that they did so well.

7.5/10

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