Oberhofer, ‘Notalgia’ – Album Review
Brad Oberhofer has a creative drive that is impressive to view from the outside. The demos that got him discovered and became 'Time Capsule' revealed an authenticity, enthusiasm and raw nature that even clean-ish production couldn't erase.
Since then, Oberhofer -- both the man and his eponymous band -- seems to just want to get music out into the world, by any means possible. Earlier this year, Oberhofer released via his bandcamp page a free recording of a spontaneous album recorded in one night. The dust hadn't even settled when he announced 'Notalgia,' a new EP to be released in June and subsequently pushed up to late April for digital downloads. His artistic hunger is nothing short of admirable, and in general, his music is kinetic, and that doesn't change on 'Notalgia.'
But while the EP works as a quick blast of energy and smart songwriting, it also represents missed opportunities to connect the lyrics to the music and adequately express some of the personal anguish that informs the songs. In a recent interview with Myspace, the songwriter reveals that his roommate died two days after he wrote 'Together/Never,' and that he found the body and was affected by that experience. This explains the recording of the song, where we hear the spoken-word line “It’s July 26th, 2012, and I’m coming to terms with death.”
It's hard to criticize something this personal and real, but it seems fair to suggest that the tone of the song does not quite capture the performer's headspace, nor does its conclusion fit with the atmosphere the song creates. Earlier, on 'Got Your Letter,' Oberhofer sings "I've said some serious s--- that I don't need exposed, I'll never tell anyone," and the listener can't help but feel out of the loop, like his exploration of failed youth romances is just a mask to keep from delving into some real trauma. And even at the most lyrically serious, the music does the emotional content a disservice.
Oberhofer might be one of the richer musical projects to have emerged in recent years, but until its leader realizes his gifts are bigger than loose, sloppy, garage-inspired indie pop, there will be a chasm between the world of Oberhofer's mind and the world of his listeners.