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Better Oblivion Community Center's self-titled debut album is salvaged by a few standout tracks

The new project from Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers rests on the duo's aptitude to create fragile indie rock.

Interesting name, but once you scratch the surface you’ll realise this is the new project of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers. This debut is similar to most of their previous work as artists, with their aptitude for fragile indie rock at the fore.

The recording is carried by aplomb and dignity, opening with the intelligent ‘Didn’t Know What I Was In For’. However, ‘Sleepwalkin’ is like three minutes of mucking about and feels like an exclusive in-joke without the know-how or quality control. 

‘Dylan Thomas’ is a peak with its spangling guitars, oblique lyrics and romantic images. Oberst then takes over for the world-weary ‘Service Road’, but there’s something grating about continuously playing the lifelong student card.

Luckily, the track ‘Exception To The Rule’ rights the horizon with its musical light and dark, contrasting like a Frankenstein of electroshock. ‘Chesapeake’ leaves you confused and unsure whether to cry or press the stop button, while ‘My City’ is compulsive listening and poignant. On the whole, the record sounds quaintly morose but is resonant with a time and place.

7.5