Oxford-Collapse – The Hann-Byrd EP

4 out of 5

Label: Comedy Minus One

Produced by: Eric Emm

4.5 catchy working-man pop tracks, held back by the kind of slacker snark that would have Oxford Collapse naming this EP after the kid actor from Little Man Tate, the relatively focused nature of the release helps keep those whims mostly at bay. OC still struggle a bit with tone, though: the subject matter here has weight – much of it focused on aging and maturity, and facing up to the realities of that – and the playing is loose in an emotive way, tapping into a GBV / Silkworm rawness that’s a good fit for the Comedy Minus One label, and helps make the songs almost instantly land. But then lyrics will occasionally dodge out for silliness, just as the group can’t help but mess around a bit on codas, or the questionable-to-the-point-of-purposelessness “remix” of the opening track, Bikini Atoll, as the rather silly Bikini As Hole. However, if you consider that final song something of an extra, the four remaining are nearly perfect noodles of casual insight and hooks, with melodies that trigger singalongs after one listen, while still leaving enough room for the group to carve out their own identity.