The sounds coming out of the new release from Phoenix-based The Oxford Coma aren’t exactly those you would hope to buoy you up if you’re having a bad day. If anything, it may send you into a darker headspace. This fourteen-track aural assault was recorded and mixed by the master of abrasion, Steve Albini and it reminds me in places of bands like Kyuss, Tool and Mudvayne (although I rather liked Kyuss and, of course, Queens Of The Stone Age). It’s an album sculpted around frustration, anger, addiction and grief – not exactly sunny pop but if it does do one thing, it makes you think.
I will say the sound of this album is phenomenal – listen to those guitars: heavy but crisp and clean; the rhythm section is explosive. But the tunelessness is what makes this difficult to digest and enjoy. And the vocals leave me empty and cold. And I give full marks for some of the song titles: “Trauma (Maybe I’m Forgetting Something)”, “Inflatable Patriots (Touching People In Their Sleep)” and “Everything Is Out Of Tune (My Only Victories Are Others’ Failures)” – very clever wordplay. But on a track, say, like “Trauma”, it’s all over the place – is it a straight rock track or is it nu-metal or grunge or it is hallucinatory-rock? With too many movements, it winds up sprawling. And the screaming distracts to a degree of being unable to really focus on what I’m trying to listen to.
The one track that stood out as dynamic and worth more than one listen is the powerful and highly melodic “Reciprocal Damage” – if the entire album was in this style/vein, it would have been outstanding. And also, very high marks for the skillful execution on “Smack And Temporary Enlightenment”. But because of my discomfort with the majority of songs, I’m afraid this CD wasn’t my cup of tea. Great name; great sound and a shining moment or two but I’ll pass for now.
Everything Out Of Tune is currently available