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Album of the Week: Oh Mercy releases his finest effort yet with 'Café Oblivion'

Five albums in and Oh Mercy has had more lineup changes than most bands would survive.

Founding member and primary songwriter Alexander Gow has been the only constant, so unsurprisingly recent albums have felt very intimate and personal.

This new record mightn’t be as instantly accessible as its predecessor, but it has a charm about it that grows upon each listen. Each subsequent visit seems to uncover something new, like a string you didn’t hear before, or a layer in production that tickles your fancy.

Opening number ‘Keep A Light On’ has a country twang and is endearing thanks to its sweeping soundscape. ‘Hot Topic’ feels like something you might hear in a cabaret show, complete with a myriad of backup female vocalists to offset Gow’s signature drawl. The way Gow talks about his feelings on Oh Mercy records is admirable, and he recently talked about wanting to write the songs he wanted to make on Café Oblivion. Given it’s ‘dinner-and-a-show’ feel, the line “just like Peter Allen, just a little more discreet” could easily refer to himself.

One of the best songs is saved for the end. ‘Restless Woman’ showcases Gow’s sprawling vocals in a way he hasn’t quite allowed himself to be heard before.

Usually referring to an album as “a grower” is disguising the fact it’s not amazing. However, on this occasion, Café Oblivion is like a long-term relationship – the effort put into listening will result in you being rewarded, and what you hear keeps getting better every time you drop by.

By Alexander Crowden