Friday, July 10, 2009

Olivia Tremor Control Review

I got Oliva Tremor Control's 1994 double album Music From The Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle a few weeks ago. I had heard them described as White Album era Beatles, so I decided to check them out. Also, they were part of the same Elephant 6 collective that begat Neutral Milk Hotel, so they were at least worth a listen.

There are some amazing tracks here. "Define A Transparent Dream, Jumping Fences," and "Spring Succeeds totally capture the poppy, druggy sound of the Beatles (but circa Revolver rather than the White Album); "Holiday Surprise" and "The Opera House" are just damn good power pop. At their best, their songs are beautiful, catchy, and just psychedelic enough to make them difference.

However, like many bands who do drugs to make music to take drugs to, they produced a lot of stuff that might sound awesome a few tabs/stems in, but is not a lot of fun to listen to sober. There is a lot of noisy, unpleasant, and irritating shit on this album, which is in stark contrast to the gorgeous power pop on the rest of the disc. They should have made this two albums: one of the actual songs, and the other of their hallucinogen-inspired noodling. Much like hard drugs, highs are pretty high, but the lows are enough to make you want to swear the whole thing off. Luckily, you can cherry-pick what you actually want to listen to, so the annoying shit (ie most of the second half of the album) can be left off your playlist.

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