Standing out in indie-folk can be difficult to pull off, and while many bands excel if you isolate them, everything can easily blend together if you look at the scene as a whole. Even if you narrow it down simply to bands that hit the spot between indie, folk and pop—a field that Australian duo of guitarist and singer Olivia Hally and violinist/mandolinist Pepita Emmerichs excelled in effortlessly on Stadium Cake, their 2016 debut as Oh Pep!—they still have the First Aid Kits and the Head and the Hearts and Tegan and Saras of the world to contend with, who deftly blend those elements together. What stood out on Stadium Cake was a willingness to go in a ton of different directions, explore all sorts of different toolkits for indie-pop and folk, while still always producing music that was distinctly theirs.

That willingness to get weird feels absent on follow-up I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You…, and it’s disappointing that they stripped back on those elements to create something that feels like a standard pop record. This collection of songs seems to run on the same engine, with few exceptions—the sugar rush of “What’s the Deal with David?” and “Bleeding Hearts,” or the acoustic guitar-centric “Up Against the World,” which break from the mid-tempo mold many of these songs fall into. But while this album may be less interesting than their debut, Oh Pep! continues to demonstrate that they’re still damn good at pop music.

The problem, though, is that, while catchy, it takes quite a while for many of the songs to really sink in. Some are fairly immediate. Opener “25” performs a neat dance from staccato guitar strums on the verses to glittering heights when the chorus hits, and it feels destined to be a crowd-pleaser with its evocative lyrics (“As I feel the weight of your body/ In the dim of the hallway light”). The more decidedly folk-leaning “Your Nail and Your Hammer” manages to hit the sweet spot between “catchy” and “repetitive,” while album-best “Hurt Nobody,” with its gentle synths and hypnotic pre-chorus (“At the park, in the streetlight, coming undone/ Take a hit in a fistfight, coming undone/ Take a cab on a weeknight, coming undone”), shifts into a new gear just when you’ve gotten comfortable.

Other songs, though, don’t necessarily grab you the way they should. “Truths” fails to ever sink in, relying too heavily on simplistic hooks and an arena-rock size chorus, while failing to ever earn it. Elsewhere, “Parallel” fails to take off, which almost makes the heights of the next song, the Heartthrob-era Tegan and Sara send-up “Bleeding Hearts,” feel that much more satisfying. The album’s best and last song, though, takes a few listens for its brilliance to kick in, but the gorgeous “There Would Be a Riot” chooses a path of restraint, utilizing swirling strings over anthemic swells.

When a band starts from a place of eclecticism, do they owe it to us to stay there forever? Of course not, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing when, in an attempt to hone their sound, a band zeroes in on the least exhilarating aspects of their music. I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You… presents a best-case scenario for this: Oh Pep! lost the flair that made them feel interesting, but despite this, still turned in a worthwhile follow-up.

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