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Obits

I Blame You

Rating: 5.0

Label: Sub-Pop

buy it at insound!

Sometimes I put on an album and I wonder how Barry from High Fidelity would respond to it. I’m pretty positive that Obits’ debut I Blame You is the album Barry has been hoping would arrive during his lifetime. I can imagine that Barry would take one listen to what former Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes co-conspirator Rick Froberg has created with I Blame You and give up on all other forms of music then and there. And who can blame him? This is without a doubt the most incendiary, ferocious debut to be released since The Stooges’ burst out of the womb of Ann Arbor. Packed with guitar riffs that are like a gun pointed at your ear, a rhythm section demanding that you dance or die, and vocals that may as well have come straight from the darkest corners of the loony bin, I Blame You is an album hell-bent on reminding you why rock ‘n’ roll was originally perceived to be the work of the devil.

Every minute of I Blame You feels dangerous and sinful, an audio reminder of the first time you really figured out what sex was; the nagging guitar hook of “Widow of My Dreams” pulls you into the album’s clutches before you even know what’s happening, starting things off slow, seducing you to its charms before you know what you’re really in for. And from there, it’s clear there’s no hope of stopping, you’ve been lured into a world you can’t, and don’t want to, leave. The guitar continues to bite with a streamlined rock-a-billy twang, awash in reverb and amps overdriven to the point of no return, driving, driving, driving. Your feet tap to the beat with the urgency of a man running from a murderous mob. And that momentum never gives up.

Picking a favorite track or standout moment would be like choosing your favorite deadly sin: “Fake Kinkade” is Crime for the 21st century; “Two-Headed Coin” is everything Quentin Tarantino was trying to say through the 5, 6, 7, 8’s in Kill Bill, “Lilies in the Street” is what the Who’s “Pictures of Lily” would have been were it about a French snuff film instead of some faded photographs. As nasty and as violent as the riffs on the album are, this isn’t the work of a band trying to drive listeners away or hoping to be labeled “difficult;” no, this is a band that knows the best way to bring people over to the dark side is to show them just how much fun being evil is.

There is no fat to be trimmed here, there are no weak moments; this fact is worth repeating: not a single moment on this album is wasted. Rick Froberg’s mission is so clear and precise it’d be infectious on its own; these are songs that don’t need to be prettied up with clever time signatures or odd meters, there are no fussy electronics or auto-tuned bullshit, just one timeless piece of flawless rock ‘n’ roll when we need it most. I defy you to just listen to “Talking to the Dog” and not be reminded of everything that made you love music in the first place, to once again feel like a teenager rebelling against society, your parents, school, anything, everything, all over again.

There are no obvious modern analogues for what I Blame You is. There are no bands out there succeeding at making rock both this dangerous and this perfect; even the roots of this sound fail to offer something as clear and as joyously perverse as this album. You can take your Black Lips and your Mando Diao: I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Obits.

by Morgan Davis

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