Oxford Collapse Remember the Night Parties

[Sub Pop; 2006]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: indie pop/rock,
Others: Superchunk, R.E.M, Cap’n Jazz

It wasn’t until “Loser City,” the third song on Remember the Night Parties, that I felt I understood what Oxford Collapse were going for. That’s not necessarily a negative, it’s just that the slower opener “He’ll Paint While We Play” has a definite “mellow intro” feel (see: Beulah - “Hello Resolven”), and “Please Visit Your National Parks” seems to continue that build: joyous and shouty, but not a foot-tapper in the band’s 4/4 tradition. It’s left to “Loser City,” then, to anchor Night Parties’ first side, and it does a good job, considering I thought I’d heard at least two different, solid rock songs by the time it was over.

Turns out, however, that Oxford Collapse have changed the rules on us this time out. Formerly a more stolidly post-punk outfit, their bread and butter on Remember the Night Parties are the kind of R.E.M.-meets-Superchunk anti-anthems of “For the Khakis and Sweatshirts” and “Return /of Burno.” The constant is the wash of Michael Pace’s guitar, keeping everything sunny and fun, which fits the summer pool-party photography that accompanies the disc.

The record’s second side is more consistently rocking than the first; “Lady Lawyers” is followed with “Let’s Vanish” and, a couple songs later, “Molasses,” all of which are prototypical ’90s indie rockers. It’s this second side of Remember the Night Parties that really floats my boat, and while some of the cute touches (Pace plays recorder on “Molasses”) aren’t the wisest, Oxford Collapse are staking out new ground for themselves, and establishing a personality to boot. Not too shabby.

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