Oberhofer – Notalgia EP (Glassnote)

Brad Oberhofer and friends serve up a high-quality slice of indie pop with their latest EP

Released Jul 15th, 2013 via Glassnote / By Larry Day
Oberhofer – Notalgia EP (Glassnote) After last year's incredibly well received debut, Time Capsules II, things were looking pretty good for Oberhofer. The brainchild of namesake Brad Oberhofer – though the band has filled out considerably since its inception – these New Yorkers are adept at weaving the innate pep of indie-pop with the noisier, dancier aspects of lo-fi and '80s alt. rock. The lyrics are raw, seeping wounds; Oberhofer (the man) puts all of his innermost thoughts and bloody feelings into his music, which allows you to instantly relate and hear naked fragility like some emotional voyeur. Now, just over a year later, we get the follow-up to his première effort: the Notalgia EP.

The anthemic, raucous 'Earplugs' ignites massive singalongs with its chorus of “Can you hear me now? / Can you hear me now?” that punctuates the Drums-esque verses. Jangly, reverb-laced surf pop chords and punchy percussion are a wonderful contrast, making the refrain even more massive when it hits. It's an effort drowning in angular guitars and fuzzy harmonies that envelop you; any sadness or fear that you once had is gone, replaced by a triumphant vigour. It's a rare song that invites intense happiness and a sense of equilibrium in the world.

Other tracks, while good, never again reach this zenith. It's not due to lack of quality, but rather 'Earplugs' is such a brilliant track that it would be insanely difficult to live up to. 'Together/Never' offers a brief silver sliver of melancholic Eastern-flecked guitar pop. The duelling axe harmonies scrape and graze through dissonance, exuding a jerky unnerving ambience to create good, Vampire Weekend-ish indie pop. 'You + Me (Still Together In The Future)' recalls Los Campesinos! in its brazen, balls-out Brit-dance breeze of rocktacular action. It’s infectious de rigueur noise.

The Notalgia EP is a great listen. At five tracks, it won't take too long to digest, but it's a nice halfway-house between Time Capsules II and whatever the next LP is going to be called. It does suffer slightly at the hands of 'Earplugs', which is of such a high calibre it all but casts a shadow over the rest of the release. Having such a brilliant cut is clearly a double-edged sword: on one hand you've got a stunning masterpiece, on the other, it's tough to repeat such quality. However, the rest of the EP isn't inherently bad – in fact it's pretty good – it just doesn't match the flawlessness of 'Earplugs'.