Just because the Sub Pop 20 marathon is over, doesn't mean the label has stopped putting out quality records and with a squeal of burning rubber (literally) Brooklyn's Oxford Collapse kick off their fourth LP. It's an exciting start, as the twins vocals of Michael Pace and Adam Rizer battle over the clatter of drums on Electric Arc, comparing their memory skills - "I can remember things" / "I can't remember things". The almost balled-like sound of the downtempo Vernon Jackson finds the band in a reflective mood, taking their foot of the accelerator for once .....for a moment at least, before they sing "88 Miles Per Hour!" on Young Love Delivers, while orchestrated strings add a more subtle dimension to A Wedding.
While the record is certainly ambitious - building on the college radio sound of the band's previous efforts - the ideas just don't seem as well honed, making for a less successful result. The band seem to be overflowing with ideas and excitement, yet unable to quite get that all shoe-horned into focused song-writing. Bubbling guitars permeate nearly every song, while the disjointed drumming fails to lift itself up as it has previously. The charming quirkiness just doesn't gel together in many places, giving some of the songs a disjointed feel that makes them hard to grow into.
The band have scored a keg and moved into party-hard mode for Men & Their Ideas, but it's too little too late. While Remember The Night Parties was a little slow to get going, the half dozen tracks that closed out the album bumped it into my mainstaream, setting expectations high for this release. While all the ingredients from that previous recipe are here, for some reason the album just doesn't quite take off. The problems here are similar to those noted in my review of their recent Hann - Byrd EP - but where a five track EP may distract you away from the cracks, they become more evident in this longer form. While this is still a good record, rather than build on the promise of their last LP and move up to the next level the band stay put for now. I'm maintaining Oxford Collapse's status at "one to watch".