Oppenheimer | Take the Whole Midrange and Boost It
Most Likely To: make you yearn for penny candy.
Take the Whole Midrange And Boost It, Oppenheimer’s follow-up to their self-titled debut, is flush with cheerful, twee melodies and smart lyrics. Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Shaun Robinson and Rocky O’Reilly are the only members of Oppenheimer, but together their sound is much greater than that of two people.
Thankfully the band tempers its ultra-sweet instrumentation with wry lyrics, keeping Take the Whole Midrange from becoming cloying. “Major Television Events” kicks off the record with the cryptic, yet memorable lyric: “I’ll hand you over to the local police / you’re getting’ sort of friendly with the nearly deceased / my medication isn’t on a slow release.” On “Look Up,” despite its optimistic-sounding title, the glass is half-empty. The song uses gazing at the sky as a metaphor for the human condition, describing how city dwellers “always look up at the spaces in the buildings / and they use this scene to describe / the emptiness that they’re feeling in their lives.” “Fireworks are Illegal in the State of New Jersey” starts like a lullaby until they describe someone as “a car crash that’s in human form” and then the song explodes into shards of rhythm and melody.
The title track tells the story of a boy, “let’s say his name was Bill / he used his sound for good and ill,” and stands out for its rocking, free-for-all chorus. While “The Never Never” rocks out from the beginning, melding a crunching guitar line and guest vocals courtesy of Matt Caughtran (The Bronx) until the super-sweet chorus arrives. “Stephen McCauley for President” refers to the American novelist whose work lampoons social artifice in the lives of gay men. Despite the band’s Irish origins, listeners will feel right at home with “Support Our Truths” and its clever play on that ubiquitous bit of military propaganda.
The band’s touch points are diverse; their style can be likened to They Might Be Giants, Barcelona, or the New Pornographers. Oppenheimer’s music is so intense that it’s tough to listen to them for long periods of time; like a maraschino cherry in a whiskey sour, a little goes a long way.
Listen to “Look Up” by Oppenheimer below: