Album Reviews

Oppenheimer: Oppenheimer [Album Review]

Oppenheimer

It’s summer here in the rural college town of Pullman, Washington. Spring semester ended just over a month ago and the population quickly halved to roughly 15,000 occupants. The added vacancy and decline of the rambunctious Greek (fraternities and sororities, not the nationality) population with the warming weather and beautiful evenings makes Pullman an outstanding location for sitting outside, sipping a beer, grilling corn on the cob and steak, and listening to upbeat summer songs. The weather is nice! Friends are around! Let’s eat and drink and listen to some fun happy music!

I have no qualms admitting it: the first time I heard Of Montreal, I didn’t like it. I thought the sound was ridiculous with its electronic pop beats and the pompously harmonic vocals. I got over it and eventually came to love their latest effort, The Sunlandic Twins, as well as their older work. Then there was The Helio Sequence with similar results. Finally we get to Oppenheimer’s self-titled debut. And, as it plays for the first time in my laptop CD player (currently on “When I Close My Eyes I Fall In Love”), I absolutely love it. Having gone through the hate-before-love relationships with groups like Of Montreal and The Helio Sequence, I feel comfortable skipping all the negatives and having the ability to say upon a first listen this is a great pop album. Oppenheimer takes aspects of the aforementioned groups and adds a heavy dose of fun European summer electro pop for an infectious sound.

“This is not a Test” kicks off the album in a very Of Montreal sense, utilizing harmony vocals with blaring synthesizer chords that blend from the first track into the second, similarly titled “This is a Test.” The latter could have come straight from The Anniversary had that group ever altered their signature moog sound. Following the upbeat and up tempo second track, Oppenheimer slows things down for the critically acclaimed “Breakfast in NYC,” a tune that will have you moving your hips without even realizing it (I’m writing this review while in a small work cubicle and startled myself by swaying in my chair… damn it’s catchy). “Ok, Let’s Take It Outside” introduces electronic vocals to the already superb mix while the synth beats resemble Unarmed Enemies’ “Show Me Your Plans.” Hints of Architecture in Helsinki come out amidst the addition of electronic vocals in the “My Son, The Astronaut” and “When I Close My Eyes I Fall In Love.” Another high point is “Orchid,” following closely the style Oppenheimer uses in “Breakfast in NYC.” The second to last song, “Saturday Looks Bad To Me” seems to be an apparent reference to the Detroit based Polyvinyl pop group Saturday Looks Good To Me, though the two groups’ sounds have little similarities other than the summer pop theme.

For a debut album Oppenheimer has created a true masterpiece, combining sweet vocals with pleasantly catchy dance tunes that will become the summer soundtrack for many people—one that is a must-have for summer ’06 and one that we can only hope is followed by a just-as-pleasing second album.

Oppenheimer: Breakfast In NYC [mp3]

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Oppenheimer's Self=Titled Debut Release

Bar/None Records [CD, 2006]

1. This Is Not A Test
2. This Is A Test
3. Breakfast In NYC
4. OK, Let’s Take This Outside
5. My Son, The Astronaut
6. When I Close My Eyes I Fall In Love
7. Allen Died, April Five
8. Nine Words
9. M.O.
10. Don’t Call Me
11. Time Loss/Gain
12. Orchid
13. Saturday Looks Bad To Me
14. This Kiss When

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