The Irish indie synth-and-guitar-pop duo Oppenheimer broke up in 2009 after five years and two albums. But This Racket Takes It Toll compiles nine tracks from a never-released third album, plus B-sides and rarities for a total of 14 songs that may or may not appeal to SoT's core readership.
If you're not a fan of do-it-yourself indie rock and all that the genre often implies (sensitive vocals, wimpy arrangements and a noisy lack of melody), you may impulsively click away from this review and forget you ever started reading about a band called Oppenheimer. But open-minded listeners will find plenty to like here, despite suffocating production and Billy Corgan-like vocals courtesy of Shaun Robinson.
This bright and shiny album opens with the sparse "Opp Ex Machina," an atmospheric lo-fi cut that proves just how much Oppenheimer influenced a new generation of bands. "Hearts Don't Listen" embraces Nineties-rock attitude, the fuzzy "42nd Century" (a song about Robinson's life in New York City) is propelled by heartbeat static, and Super Mario Bros. sound effects add bounce to "It's Just the Drink Talking." The alternately lush and chaotic "Single Syllable Colours" approaches prog, "Let's Get the Hell Out of Texas" borders on metal and "Meet Me in the City" delivers a disco diversion.
This is retro and refreshingly fun stuff.
1) Opp Ex Machina
2) Hearts Don't Listen
3) 42nd Century
4) It's Just the Drink Talking
5) Songs in Semaphore
6) Single Syllable Colours
7) Bonus 1: Let's Get the Hell Out of Texas
8) Bonus 2: Earlybird School (Charles Douglas cover)
9) Bonus 3: Meet Me in the City
10) Truth or Dare
11) Getting By
12) Straight Outta Comp'in'
13) Song for G
14) We Ride Invisible Rollercoasters