The Obsessives have a post-punk recess on A Great Menace Weighs Over the City - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
The Obsessives | Photo by Jessica Flynn |

Trading in fidelity for fun, The Obsessives‘ new EP A Great Menace Weighs Over the City brings a slacker vibe out of the Philadelphia duo. The seven-song collection finds hook-laced lo-fi, instantly transporting us to a packed South Philly basement producing palpable indie rock.

Finding ways to challenge their creative process, the band decided to self-produce and self-release the EP, teasing vibes that’ll be present when the band releases their second full-length record in 2017 on recently signed to Lame-O Records. Singer/guitarist Nick Bairatchnyi documented the experience, finding the process to be quite enjoyable.

“This spring we were wrapping up a 20 day stay at Big Mama’s Warehouse and during the mixing process, Jackson (Mansfield, drummer) and I started writing these other short songs for fun mainly to kill time. We thought the simple vibe of the songs would sound cool on tape so we borrowed a 4-track and spent the last 5 or 6 days before we went to college making this.

Recording the EP ourselves was a cool experience because we had to learn how to use the tape machine efficiently as we recorded, and we didn’t have a lot of time to do it. We had a few songs that we wanted to record this way and we wanted to record and release them without having to go back into a studio before going to college so we just sort of dove in. We’ve been writing tons of new songs and this EP is kind of a lo-fi tease of what we’ve got in store.”

The EP itself is a fuzzy callback to the simplistic rock tones of the early Cure and Modern Lovers, throwing in bashful keys to further the already simplistic alternative sound. The opening track “My City” drives the EP into pop-rock territory, keeping the guitar lively and sweet (and I swear to God there’s a recorder thrown in there somewhere). As the record progresses, idiosyncratic stories about awkward family gatherings (“Military Man”), lucid dreaming (“Big Hand (god why) “) and scoring drugs with a man’s one and only (“Drug User”) make the songs feel more like stoned diary entries, a mess of thoughts contingent with the feverish lifestyle the band’s made for themselves.

“My Mood” feels like a synthesis of the entire record, as Bairatchnyi’s booming guitar brings in a man’s anxiety to move on to bigger and brighter things (“I’m let down by the days and I am let down by the nights / Just expecting new light”). The last two tracks find an even fuzzier head space, as “Teacher is Mad” and “He’s Agitated” leave the record on a broken cliff-hanger as atmospheric instrumentation ends stories of school boy worries and drunken hook-ups, all engulfed in a somber twang.

The Obsessives have been in my wheelhouse for a few months now, and A Great Menace Weighs Over the City adds even more peculiar tunes to the band’s already banging repertoire. I hope the kooky vibes carry over to the new full-length, as spring 2017 will expectantly bring us another quirky addition.

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