In their latest release, an album appropriately titled Holographic Blues, rockers Oberon Rose explore using instrumental complexities as a means of furthering a specific narrative about their genre, and to me, it amounts to pure pop/rock gold. Though tempered by a controlled approach to songs like “Miss Lonely Heart,” “American Avenue,” “Losers of the Year” and my personal favorite “Upside Down World,” Holographic Blues is nonetheless quite the dynamic, physicality-forward LP that doesn’t push pop pleasantries in front of raw versatility. This is very much a show of strength-style album, and one that I would recommend to alternative buffs everywhere this January.
There’s a lot of muscle in this record, and in the case of “Sinner” or “Demoniac,” it’s responsible for defining the bulk of the tone (even more so than the lyrics). While lyrical integrity is something that Oberon Rose have never pulled punches about, they don’t have a problem putting all of their energy into pummeling tenacity where it counts the most in Holographic Blues, which is more than I can say for some of their closest competitors in the mainstream market right now. Indulgence has its place in rock, but they aren’t even requiring its presence to sound theatrical and on-point here.
The ripping discordance between the guitar and the drums in “A New Song” is only made softer by the introduction of a gentle piano element, and for all intents and purposes this exemplifies the kind of experimentation I want to hear more of from Oberon Rose. There’s a triangulated feel to the way the harmonies unfold in this particular track that I haven’t been able to get enough of since first getting into Holographic Blues ahead of its official release this coming January 15th, and given its rarity, I see other rock aficionados sharing my enthusiasm.
Despite the implied tension in the tracklist as we move from the likes of “Miss Lonely Heart” into slightly more complicated territories ala “Chinese Whisper,” “Falling Up” and the aforementioned “Demoniac,” nothing here feels overly stripped-down to fit the overall theme of efficiency. Instead of adopting conservative stylizations to fit into the concept they were shooting for in this album, Oberon Rose are simply stuffing their aesthetics into a box and letting all of the angular elements stick out. It’s rather abrasive in black and white, but in practice I think it’s allowing for them to sound a lot more relaxed and connected with the medium.
Holographic Blues is, simply put, a really great look for Oberon Rose, and I believe it will likely be regarded as their leanest and meanest group of performances to see widespread release thus far. There’s a whole lot of 2021 left to live, but if this is to be the tone-setting indie release of the year, I would say we’re in for some really quality riffs and rhythmic hooks in the next eleven months. Oberon Rose earn themselves a place in the headlines here, and I don’t think I’ll be the only observer noting as much.
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