Remember the Night Parties
(Sub Pop)


By: Brandon Forbes

Oxford Collapse have certainly named themselves appropriately. If there is one thing their unique blend of post-emo and keggercore sound capsizes, it’s any aristocratic or academic pretensions. Hallowed halls and abstruse treatises are set aflame by the Collapse’s disparate song structures. Remember the Night Parties is more than a nostalgic nod to a youth passed – the act of putting the record on can actually recreate that youth. These layers and layers of math noise, flushed vocals, and guitar glance toward the Minuteman, Superchunk and early Promise Ring. When played in any stuffy study or living room, it can magically transform either of these austere locales into a veritable hipster-filled yard party, complete with keg stand, torn musty couches, and beer-soaked bonfires. There’s no doubt that such an homage to late 1990s college rock deserves accolades, emerging as it does in the face of hot blogosphere 1980s revivalism.

After two full length albums on their local Brooklyn label Kanine, the Collapse signed with Sub Pop earlier this year and recorded Remember the Night Parties with Sonic Youth and Jawbox knob-tweaker John Agnello. The result captures both their booze-fueled musical aspirations as well as their winsome lyrical ironies – dueling guitar and bass progressions engage the listener in such a way that repeated listens are needed before their lyrical depth is realized. The prominent hook and sing-a-long-ability of fan favorite “Please Visit Your National Parks”, which will no doubt be present on untold numbers of year-end “Best Of 2006” mixes, admonishes the listener’s sense of geography while delivering a guaranteed party favorite. Driving “Loser City” pauses for one minute in its middle to catch its breath before resuming its checklist of loserisms: “I kissed your sister and made her cry.” What could be both a shot at jock culture and sweatshop labor takes form in “For the Khakis and the Sweatshirts”. Awkward vocal and percussive juxtapositions curl around bright fretwork and a falsetto chorus, creating a space for name dropping Ice Cube: “We live like O’Shea Jackson/low-rider station wagons.” Tongue-in-cheek “Lady Lawyers” takes its cues from the late 1990s college rock playbook - musically as well as lyrically - enthusing “We’re thrilled and we’re fresh out of school” and ending on one of the best post-choruses of the year. “Let’s Vanish” and “Molasses” offer similar takes on the fertile groundwork of early work from Mineral and the Promise Ring, with the latter lamenting the inevitability of human failings amidst recorder and jittery guitar: “You know you’re gonna get bored after a year/With your animal ways you’ll fuck it up.” Closer “In Your Volcano”, perhaps the poppiest song on the record, asks “What are you taking on this godforsaken cruise?” after listing the ingredients for disaster in a free association reflection on volcanic eruption.

Though most of the album can best be termed as off the hook, the Collapse show a sensitive side on a couple of tracks. Opener “He’ll Paint While We Play” starts the record off on a somber note, preparing the audience for the varied rock mathemes to come: “Join our cavalcade/Storm the barricade.” Introspective “Forgot to Write” never gets bigger than a proud group sing-a-long chorus, but still packs a powerful message. As a meditation on maturation, it couches the space between youth and adulthood with a nod to William Butler Yeats: “I’ve given up on Innisfree to concentrate on Responsibilities.” Breaking the eight minute mark, epic “Return /of Bruno” spends most of its time in quiet drone verses after opening with a skittering guitar and impassioned vocal group hug.

Like a well placed snort of Jagermeister, the Collapse can blame it on a rush of beer to the head. In this case, such a metaphor is a very positive thing. While the tone of Remember the Night Parties is impossible to capture in a catch phrase, its varied musical experiments succeed in this much: they never fail to captivate nor metaphorically pants the dean of that esteemed university across the pond.



All opinions expressed by Brandon Forbes are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

© Stay Thirsty Media, Inc. 2006
All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Terms of Sale | Site Map


*A PURCHASE IS REQUIRED TO ENTER THE PLAYWRIGHT AWARD CONTEST. Contest ends 2/1/07. Open to US legal residents of the 50 US and DC, who are 18 years or older at time of entry. Subject to Official Rules. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.