Published Feb 14, 2019A decade ago, Harlem emerged from Austin, TX with two back-to-back albums of spastic, no-nonsense, zero-fidelity jams. Free Drugs ;-) and Hippies were like the first embers of a campfire, jumping and crackling without discernible destination or intent, but nevertheless carrying the spark of something warm and inviting. With the release of Oh Boy, it's safe to say that spark has been snuffed out.
Instead of the joy and jubilance brought on by their original releases, Oh Boy offers up 12 languorous, drawn-out, indie rock ballads that are indistinguishable from one another at the best of times, and outright skippable at worst. Both Michael Coomers and Curtis O'Mara sound as if they were drip-fed valium for the entire creative process, offering little more than flat, monotone warbles over wet reverb overlays and dry bass tones.
Tracks such as "Cry Now Cry Later," "Click Your Heels" and "Elegant and Sophisticated" will no doubt feel at home on soft rock radio stations across the nation, or spinning lazily on the turntables of those who consider Bahamas' discography a little too intense.
It's odd to even call Oh Boy a Harlem album, as the band that put out a string of devil-may-care bops like "Someday Soon" and "Gay Human Bones" feels as distant and unlikely to resurface as they did ten years ago. Even the record's title feels suspect, suggesting a mantra softly sighed every time Coomers and O'Mara plugged in to record another track — a grim acceptance of their album's innate dreariness and a bereavement for their former fieriness. (Independent)