Obits are the brainchild of Rick Froberg, most widely recognised for his work in early ’90s post-hardcore progenitors Drive Like Jehu. Unsurprisingly, the learned execution and production closeness on Obits’ third record seems far removed from what’s happening in contemporary garage-blues or technically informed indie rock. For example, ‘Operation Bikini’ resembles a song by The Bronx, however the aggression is more agonised than glaringly masculine. A harmonica howls over a cyclically urgent drum pattern, the guitar playing is dexterous yet not overly complex, and Froberg’s scream is part carefree snarl and part disturbed spit in the face.
The easiest reference point for Obits’ stylistic conquest is The Replacements.Much like the work of Paul Westerberg’s recently reformed mob, Obits tracks like ‘Pet Trust’ thrash through jazzy Alex Chilton chord sequences with 5am desperation. Rick Froberg’s scream is sent out from back of his throat, suggesting it’s absolutely essential he strain to reach the melody, even if it hurts.
The record’s uncluttered production evokes an image of a group sublimating themselves into every note played. It’s not completely pell-mell either, and the desert dust verses of the surfabilly ‘Malpractice’ and the krauty tension of ‘Machines’ allow time to ruminate on the well-constructed, often modally dissonant riffage.
At a glance, Obits’ high-voltage third recordcould be seen as a representation of the disaffected youth of today. However, the authentic character of the record’s 1980s college radio punk rock stylings is a clue towards the average age of the Brooklyn-based four-piece.
BY AUGUSTUS WELBY
Bed & Bugs is out now through Sup Pop/Inertia.