Better Oblivion Community Center
Better Oblivion Community Center


4.4
superb

Review

by Atari STAFF
January 25th, 2019 | 290 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I'm getting greedy with this private hell

Better Oblivion Community Center opens with the powerful whisper of “Didn’t Know What I Was in For.” It's one the most delicate tracks, but lyrically it finds Phoebe Bridgers at her most profound. Lacking a phone with a camera, the songwriter confesses what she would capture in the world around her if she had a fancier device. Finding beauty in the ugly, she’d snag a snapshot of “the man on the off-ramp, holding up the sign that’s asking me for help.” This is what I love about Bridgers. Her ability to appreciate the every-day sh*t around us and turn it into poetry is nothing short of astounding. And hey, what do you know, the other half of Better Oblivion Community Center has a similar gift.

Conor Oberst has been around a lot longer than Phoebe Bridgers, but despite their differences in age and experience, their music shares a similar aesthetic. Both artists claw their way under your skin, but sooth the pain with huge melodies and a slightly tongue-in-cheek nature. The more I think about it, the pairing of Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers makes perfect sense. Not that much proof was needed. The two songwriters already meshed well together in “Would You Rather”, from Bridger’s breakthrough debut, Strangers in the Alps.

However, this collaboration is proof these two musicians bring out the best in each other. Better Oblivion Community Center proudly contains some of the best material each artist has been a part of. “Service Road”, a dark Americana track with a depressing mood, is among Oberst’s most affecting work to date. It has vintage Bright Eyes written all over it, but the lyrics regarding the loss of a family member and added vocal harmonies elevate it to another level. Bridgers is also at the top of her game here; the opening track and “Dylan Thomas” are as memorable as anything on Stranger in the Alps. The latter is a playful, pop-heavy track where Bridger’s continues to obsess over darkness in her storytelling. On her debut, she portrayed visions of death and Dahmer; this time she’s entering the setting of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Lines like I’m getting greedy with this private hell/I’m taking a shower at the Bate’s Motel are given the opportunity to thrive within Bridger’s unforgettable melodies.

Collaboration albums can be tricky to pull off, but Better Oblivion Community Center excels due to a strong sense of balance. It allows both musicians a chance to do their thing and take the reigns, and at other times they seem perfectly in-sync with each other. Unlike the breezy but predictable Boygenius effort, this LP also gives us a chance to see a different side of Bridgers we haven’t exactly heard before. These moments are brief, but highly effective. The tail end of “Big Black Heart” coasts to the finish line on muddy, glitchy instrumentals – with Bridgers and Oberst shouting frantically against the feedback. Boisterous electric guitar parts are scattered throughout the album as well, giving an extra kick when necessary. For fans of Bright Eyes or Conor Oberst’s solo material, it’s also a rock-solid affirmation the man is still capable of brilliant songwriting. Better Oblivion Community Center is a collaboration that feels too good to be true, but here we are. It’s full of charming melodies, carefully placed harmonies, and biting lyrics from two of the most influential songwriters around. Some days you just get lucky.



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user ratings (220)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
donttakeapicture (5)
Conor and Pheobe make one hell of a pair....


Comments:Add a Comment 
betlwedl
January 25th 2019


119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha 3rd view but review rules, album rules, phoebe and conor slay together and this album is just beautiful, hell yeah

Cormano
January 25th 2019


1449 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

loving this thing so much, feels like a gift

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2019


24616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

stunning stuff



https://betteroblivioncommunitycenter.bandcamp.com/?

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Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2019


41797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

THAT GHOST IS JUST A KID IN A SHEET

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Cormano
January 25th 2019


1449 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sleepwalkin, Dylan Thomas, Exception to the Rule, Chesapeake, Big Black Heart and the closer are something else

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2019


24616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

Dylan Thomas is already better than most of "Stranger in the Alps" and I have that album 5'd



lots of similar standouts Cormano. expecting this to change but my current favorites are the opener, Sleepwalkin', Dylan Thomas, Big Black Heart and Service Road.



"Service Road" is one of the best things from Conor Oberst I've ever heard, and that's including all his work in Bright Eyes.



@Rowan, YES! loved that line and how she tied some lyrics into her debut

Wildhoney
January 25th 2019


399 Comments


Oh man I'm so happy this exists. Sweet review!

theBoneyKing
January 25th 2019


16685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review, looking forward to hearing this. Never heard anything by Oberst so this should be an interesting listen.

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JS19
January 25th 2019


7112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

chesapeake hurts

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ButtBoy
January 25th 2019


2940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Excellent review. Glad everyone else seems to be loving this as much as me. Gotta love those surprise albums, because they eliminate the chances of building up super high expectations.

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 25th 2019


30731 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great write-up Atari. This album is snowballing on me, adding new layers of awesome with every rotation.

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ProjectFreak
January 25th 2019


3619 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The opener and Chesapeake crush me. This is super good. Great writeup Atari.

disciple31
January 25th 2019


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is so good. hope this gets the recognition boygenius got cause it deserves it just as much if not more

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 25th 2019


30731 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

boygenius was not that good

this is everything that project should have been

DoofDoof
January 25th 2019


3391 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Is this going to annoy me?

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ButtBoy
January 25th 2019


2940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"boygenius was not that good

this is everything that project should have been"

Agreed.



"Is this going to annoy me?"

does good music have a tendency to annoy you or nah

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2019


24616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

Doof maybe check “Big Black Heart” first



also, thanks for the kind words fellas. fwiw I thought this album was special enough to fight through my bad case of writer's block





DoofDoof
January 25th 2019


3391 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

'does good music have a tendency to annoy you or nah'



Conor Oberst can annoy me sometimes sure, and I think Phoebe Bridgers is totally unmemorable



But then also i do like some Bright Eyes too



Listening now anyway

DungeonBoy
January 25th 2019


6015 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey Atari! good review bud, the pairing here is excellent. The lyrics and vocals go together really well, and I'm digging this today

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disciple31
January 25th 2019


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

'boygenius was not that good

this is everything that project should have been'



i thought boygenius was fine but it was definitely like each singer made 2 songs each and threw them together for an ep and somehow (from mainstream? reaction) that was better than them each individually.



This on the other hand is a way better collaboration



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