Oberhofer – Time Capsules II

written by: March 21, 2012
Release Date: March 26, 2012


There are bands that can instantly transport listeners back to distant times in their lives that were previously long-forgotten or deeply buried. But childhood is rarely one of those times; it’s a phase in everyone’s lives that’s just kind of there. Childhood is a time that we all acknowledge and sometimes yearn for, but dwelling on it is not commonplace.

Upon listening to Time Capsules II by Oberhofer, those memories all keep flooding back. The New York-based quartet’s whimsical musical styling and jovial vocals combined with traditional rock-guitar structure personify the innocence of childhood while still maintaining a sense of maturity.

The album opens with “HEART,” a song whose melodic sweetness matches its namesake. Upper-octave keys chirp through deafening silence to eventually build with percussion, cheery vocals and, considering its presence in every single song, what must be the band’s all-time favorite instrument—the xylophone.

Oberhofer is not a lyrically driven band and often relies on the same tried-and-true, formulaic song structures to get through the album. The use of xylophone, which begins as innovative and novel, loses its charm by track 10—imagine if your little sister had overstayed her welcome at battle of the bands practice and decided to jam on the xylophone.

Sparse lyrics offer just a few glimmers of what could have been vivid imagery. Redemption is earned during the outro, though, as impressively powerful wails and swirling piano climb up walls of anxious strings. Tracks like “Landline” and “Away FRM U” follow this formula and incorporate Strokes-like guitar riffs to provide some much-needed edge to the otherwise sugary-sweet, cavity-inducing surfer pop that dominates the album.

Some lyrical prowess is displayed midway through the album with “oOoO,” fluttering through brief nature imagery before launching into an angrily desperate Kooks-like love song. With “oOoO,” Oberhofer treads welcomed lyrical territory by building a brief storyline, rather than repeating the same three or four lines and calling it a day.

The album’s closing track, “Homebro,” is without a doubt the most tender of the lot. The apology to a loved-and-lost lover is tragically beautiful with the refrain, “My life … was pointed back at you again,” complementing the ghostly strings. “Homebro” is a wise choice for a closer that leaves listeners with a sense of yearning for both better times and an entire album of these brilliant arrangements.

Although their self-declared “coincidence pop” shows a unique aesthetic, it fails to hold attention for the span of an entire album. Not short on inspiration or time, only a single track dips below the three-minute mark. But with this insistence on tinkering with every song into a four-minute epic comes the unavoidable counting of seconds until the end.

The juxtaposition of the whimsical (energetic vocals stretching to the upper registers) and the traditional (grounded pop, a la The Drums or Strokes) makes for an intriguing sound that the four members dub a “mix of newfound formal training with the noisy exuberance of youth.” Time Capsules II certainly makes listeners yearn for youth, but does it make them yearn for more? That is harder to say.

Oberhofer – Time Capsules II tracklist:

  1. “HEART”
  2. “Landline”
  3. “Away FRM U”
  4. “I Could Go”
  5. “Yr Face”
  6. “oOoO”
  7. “Cruisin’ For”
  8. “Gold”
  9. “Haus”
  10. “Homebro”