Oxford Collapse exists somewhere between being another face in the crowd of New York post-punk hipsters and being B-teamers on an already overcrowded (major) indie-label powerhouse. To survive, and then thrive, in either scenario would be a monumental challenge. Over the course of their first two albums, the members of Oxford Collapse built themselves a comfortable niche in the indie scene. Their sound — angular guitars, dance-punk rhythms, yelping off-kilter vocals — helped them stay relevant but didn’t up their profile on a larger level. But with the refined and rich Remember the Night Parties — and the help of Sub Pop and reputable producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) — Oxford Collapse has taken an essential step forward.
No longer content to simply perfect a specific sound, the band members — Michael Pace, Dan Fetherston and Mike Henry — now ambitiously explore emotions and push musical boundaries inside their sphere of sound. The band commands off-kilter dynamics with a focused sense of melody. Opener “He’ll Paint While We Play” is an unhurried, feedback-driven number with subdued instrumentation and wistful, vulnerable singing. Over a shouted vocal, “Please Visit Your National Parks” pushes the boundaries of jangly dual-guitar interplay to its breaking point. The song is an exercise in coalescing accessibility and catchiness with fractured instrumentation and a wall of wailing guitars. “For the Khakis and the Sweatshirts” finds Oxford Collapse experimenting with synchronized guitars and a soothing, precious vocal harmony over bass and drum that seem to have minds (and agendas) of their own. “Kenny Can’t Afford It” rides a manic drumbeat, walking bass lead and chorus-line vocal to a crescendo of feedback, droning noise and glorious trumpet.
Ultimately, the lyrics tell the story of where Oxford Collapse has come as a band. Remember the Night Parties finds the members emotionally diverse (“finished ain’t the same as through” and “We’re cracking champagne because/ we became what we never thought we would”) and confidently bold (“Why can’t I pick the scabs off your legs/ they’ll drip like molasses down my face”). With their music and attitude backing up this mature, sophisticated and affecting version of themselves, the members of Oxford Collapse stake their claim among not only Sub Pop’s ranks, but as one of indie rock’s best new bands.
Label: http://www.subpop.com/Audio: http://www.myspace.com/theoxfordcollapse