You’re living in a suburb built in the 60s under the guise that you’ve fallen out of touch with the world around you. Politics, pop culture, old friends, everything you used to know has moved on, leaving you behind and now you simply exist in your surroundings. Put that feeling into a musical soundtrack and you got Better Oblivion Community Center, the collaborative project from Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers.
It’s an album about loss. Loss of family, friends, feeling lost in a world where little makes sense rooted in nostalgia. It touches on the political and social climate, loved ones who have passed, and life after settling down.
For a record that feels as hopelessly vulnerable as this, it’s carried by its songwriting, impressive harmonies and strong melodies. Much of the record places their vocals side by side, with only a few instances of one of them taking the mic solo.
It’s a fairly mellow record but some of the tracks pick up, pulling in on a strong mid-2000s indie rock vibe, such as on Exception To The Rule, but it’s the quieter songs that really shine. Didn’t Know What I Was In For creates a thick atmosphere built on a simple guitar as they sing together about being outsiders continuing to exist in a changing world. On Service Road, they sing separately with Phoebe taking more of a support role to Conor’s lead as he sings about his late brother.
Released back in January, Better Oblivion Community Center is an early contender for the year’s best of lists. It paints a dystopian picture that may be more real for many of us than we’d like, but it’s nice to know we’re not alone in that feeling.
Check out: I Didn’t Know What I Was In For, Exception To The Rule, Dominos
1. Didn’t Know What I Was In For
3. Dylan Thomas
4. Service Road
5. Exception To The Rule
7. My City
8. Forest Lawn
9. Big Black Heart