The debut album, “Time Capsules II,” from Oberhofer immediately grabs you – and then keeps you guessing throughout. It had its hooks in me after less than a minute – probably because it’s quite different to everything else I’ve heard lately. It’s a variation on indie pop that is slightly reminiscent of Vampire Weekend’s eponymous album, but with vocals less concerned with harmonies and abstract themes involving Peter Gabriel. Like that other New York-based foursome, they trade in feel-good, catchy tunes.
The opener, “Heart”, isn’t noteworthy for meaningful lyrics, but for the intricate layering of instruments. It’s done almost as well as giants like Arcade Fire and Elbow do it. The result is, quite simply, a great song.
Frontman and limelight hogger Brad Oberhofer clearly paid attention in his music composition classes at New York University. Oberhofer’s songs are well constructed and the way they evolve shows a degree of sophistication and thought. Building slowly and gradually incorporating everything from secondary vocals to a xylophone, “Yr Face” is another prime example of this. There’s something very Arcade Fire-esque here.
Beautiful instrumental work, sometimes gentle and understated, sometimes a patchwork of sounds, reverberates through this album. Particularly accomplished is the way the tempo is changed and riffs leap out of nowhere.
Occasionally, the lyrics grate a little and maybe it shows that Oberhofer is barely out of his teens. He certainly won’t be winning any Ivor Novello awards for lines such as: ‘Oh girl, if I don’t pick up the phone/You can call the landline’. But then he’s not trying to.
“Landline” and the uber poppy “Cruisin’ FDR” remind me of songs by The Drums and Noah and The Whale. I hate the phrase, but this will be branded a ‘summer album’, and I think Oberhofer should enjoy success on the festival scene. They were well received at Coachella in April and will play Lollapalooza later this year.
I would be surprised, though, if they became a festival novelty act like MGMT, who most festival-goers quickly become bored of once they’ve played their hits. Oberhofer have more to offer, which is reaffirmed by the final three songs after “Cruisin’ FDR”.
This band have definitely got talent, they’re definitely one to watch and I’ll even forgive them for their annoying text speak…