By Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer
Key Tracks: “Now She’s Smoking,” “It’s Not Fair”
The new self-titled record from DC-based duo The Obsessives is the most the polished the pair has ever sounded. Nick Bairatchnyi and Jackson Mansfield clean up their production to turn out their strongest work since Heck No, Nancy. However, the album grapples with what exactly it wants to be. The Obsessives does pop-punk justice in its best moments, but through its pacing, recycles its writing schemes and leans towards clichéd. Despite this, there are gems speckling the record where The Obsessives come across distinctively and vulnerably.
The intro is commonplace; A bleating acoustic number charged with angst, is admittedly what you’d expect from such a track, and it’s delivered. “Intro” cuts off mid-sentence, which is where “You’re My God” picks up in gimmicky fashion. The first movement of the record foreshadows a lean toward pop influence. While it brings down the introduction, the other tracks wear this style like a badge. “Surfer Rosa” is catchy and free, sounding more like power-pop than pop-punk, likewise for “If You Really Love Me” and “He Is Wise.” The foremost of these pulls it off the best, while the other two being sounding like repetitive over usage of a would be decent song structure.
Some golden moments are the songs that don’t break the two-minute mark. “Violent” and “A Shady Place” are the tracks to note of these; They’re deceptively slow burning. Rather than opting for a chaotic quick burst of young rage, the tracks are more of a contemplation. They take their time – what little they have of it – to digest the feelings they’re processing. “Now She’s Smoking” takes the best parts of this slow burn and the popish structure and marries them beautifully. The parallel effects of the breakdown and the chorus is an interesting narrative device, reinforcing the strains of the song.
On a more traditionally pop-punk note is “It’s Not Fair.” This jam hits fast, and it hits hard. A classic tale of crumbling relationships and wanting to love someone else while learning to love yourself. It’s classic pop-punk, with more to send listeners back to their most youthful selves.
The second half has a bit of a lull. The Obsessives lose the sense of importance they’d worked the first half to build. Aside from the thoughtful interlude “In Her Belly,” the album stops striking emotional chords in varied ways and gets old quickly. They bring it back for a finale in “You’re Gonna Be,” but the filler it takes to get there is lackluster.
Weak tracks piggy-backing on the great ones is ultimately what holds The Obsessives back. Even with its best songs being in your head for weeks, this self-titled just doesn’t stick.