Album of the Day: Oh Pep!, “Stadium Cake”

Originally published with Bandcamp on June 30, 2016.

It’s tempting to draw connections between Oh Pep! and their fellow countrywoman Courtney Barnett. Both of them favor stream-of-consciousness lyrics and at-times-understated vocals. But it would be unfair to relegate the group to Barnett’s shadow. Their first studio LP, Stadium Cake, is a veritable sound feast, one on which Oh Pep! stray beyond the confines of folk pop and indie rock, using them as jumping off points to explore new horizons.

Stadium Cake is the story of a toxic relationship and its participants’ struggle with desire. What one wants isn’t always what one should—familiar territory in music, to be sure, but Olivia Hally (vocals, guitar) and Pepita Emmerichs (vocals, mandolin) make it feel novelwith lyrics that amount to an emotional wrestling match, and an array of musical styles that seem to mirror the head-fuckery that results from bad love. There’s the playful “Bushwick,” that runs at a fast clip, spurred on by a mandolin’s frantic rhythm, before the entire song suddenly switches time signatures and slows pace. “Wanting” follows right behind, starting with a folk feel and grounded by the front-and-center mandolin before peeling off into neon-like synths. “I went down to the rocky shore/ You were standing in the water, you were wanting more/ I lost my footing when I jumped right in/ To get to you, I had to swim,” Hally sings. The line is a recognition of the dangerous, tempting path before her.

[Full article available at Bandcamp.]

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