The Better Oblivion Community Center emerged on social media a couple of months ago posting cryptic tweets and asking people to put their addresses into a form on their website in order to receive a brochure that, when delivered, claimed it offered things such as ‘assisted self-care’ and ‘sacred crystal implantation and removal’ in its bizarre list of services.
But rather than being some sort of dystopian spa-meets-therapy provider, the Center is instead a collaboration between Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, who after meeting in LA a few years ago and collaborating on a few previous tracks and tours, have made a ten-track album that combines both of their styles to create something that doesn’t sound quite like either of them.
Opening with just Phoebe singing over an acoustic guitar, ‘Didn’t Know What I Was In For’ paints the same kind of lyrical specificity and emotive storytelling that made Phoebe’s 2017 debut ‘Stranger In The Alps’ so successful. Elsewhere, the album is full of kicking drum beats and the grind of electric guitars: ‘Dylan Thomas’ is primed for country rock radio while ‘Big Black Heart’ reaches levels of raw, distressed energy that both of their solo work never quite has. ‘Exception To The Rule’ is a real highlight though, with the pair’s harmonising vocals intertwining over a juddering synth, before they cry “Why don’t you want it anymore!” on one of the album’s most memorable moments.