Though frequently presented with a poppy edge that could be attributed as much to a British Invasion influence as it would be a post-punk self-awareness by most indie critics, the guitars are a fiercely brawny element to behold in Oberon Rose’s Holographic Blues. Whether it be the jangly “Miss Lonely Heart,” piano-adorned “A New Song” or the subtle juggernaut “Sinner,” the six-string sizzle isn’t hard to find in Holographic Blues. All in all, Oberon Rose don’t hide the fact that they’re looking to reestablish themselves as rock-savvy instrumentalists who happen to dish out a sexy vocal harmony every now and then in this release, and I for one really admire the moxie of their approach.
This is the most unordinary time in music history, and rightly they’re coming into this release with an unordinary appreciation for rock’s classic (and desperately wounded) aesthetics. There’s a lot to unpack behind the riffage in this LP, and you needn’t look much further than the retro structure of a song like “American Avenue” to understand precisely what I’m talking about. While the guitars are inarguably more of a star than any other element in the mix is, “American Avenue” forces us to focus more on the swing of its rhythm than we ever would its gritty, Jet-reminiscent sonic scowl. They say the devil is in the details, and if you think of old school rock n’ roll as something born of hellfire, there’s definitely a lot to learn about who Oberon Rose want to be at this stage of their careers in Holographic Blues. After all, if they were going to follow suit with the surreal pop movement their scene has welcomed in recent years, I highly doubt there would be anything nearly as sharp as lead single “Demoniac” or the stirringly dreamy “Upside Down World” here.
I definitely pick up on an increased cerebral influence in some of the material in this album, especially the balladic “Falling Up” and acoustic “Losers of the Year.” This isn’t to say that neo-psychedelia has slipped into their sound; as previously noted, I don’t find any of the music here to be atmospheric enough to tether Oberon Rose to the evolving surrealism trend, but theirs is still a sound as potentially stony as it is sleek. There’s no disputing just how big a difference artistic depth makes in the rock genre, and in the case of this band, they’re only getting better with age.
Oberon Rose continue to develop a very unique sound in Holographic Blues, and while I don’t think this is going to serve as the peak of their artistic campaign, it would be inaccurate for me to call their work here anything less than stellar.
They’ve effectively raised the bar for themselves with bold thinking in past content, but in tracks like “Chinese Whisper” and “American Avenue,” I don’t hear a band that is simply trying to outdo themselves with complex songwriting technique. This is a group committed to impacting the general consensus of what rock can and should be in 2021, and that’s what makes their new LP so hard to put down.