Better Oblivion Community Center

February started somewhat shitty. The first day of the new month I was down with a massive Migraine. Today, I feel a bit better. But, the cat had to see the vet, and it turns out he’s down with a super high fever. He’s back home now, after getting an antipyretic shot. But, we are still worried about him. So, we canceled our plans for tonight and made ourselves comfortable at home. I settled down on the sofa with the laptop, and while scrolling through Facebook, I made the discovery that would save the day: Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst released an album together. It’s called Better Oblivion Community Center, and it is everything I needed on a day like today.

Better Oblivion Community Center
Image via Better Oblivion Community Center

I have loved Conor Oberst for decades. Back when he was making music under the moniker Bright Eyes, I would listen to his songs while going on long walks through my student town. I was an indie/emo-kid, and his melancholic lyrics and quivering voice were everything to me. Years later, in 2016 the boyfriend and I saw him perform as a surprise act at the Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins gig we went to during our trip to the Mid-West. Shortly after the concert, Oberst released Ruminations, a record that subsequently was on heavy rotation at our home all through 2017.

In 2018 I discovered Phoebe Bridgers. Her song Motion Sickness appeared on one of those automatically generated Spotify playlists one day and quickly landed on my top 10 list. Just like with the music of Conor Oberst, it is her unique voice, the beautiful yet raw melodies and her melancholic, but true to life lyrics that speak to me a lot. Conor Oberst already made a guest appearance on a track on her debut album Stranger in the Alps, so maybe it was just a matter of time until the two would launch into a larger collaboration.

With Better Oblivion Community Center – the collaboration is under the same title as their first release – these two musical geniuses, came together and created something brilliant. The first song, Didn’t Know What I Was in For already holds so many truths about our reality and society. There are other great lyrics with relatable bits and pieces spread across the album. Like The City that ends on the line “All this freedom just freaks me out,” or Chesapeake a song that so wonderfully captures the mood of a live gig that should never end. Or this verse from the track Dylan Thomas to which they released a video – with the help of Japanese Breakfast singer Michelle Zauner, nonetheless.

“If it’s advertised, we’ll try it
And buy some peace and quiet
And shut up at the silent retreat
They say you’ve gotta fake it
At least until you make it
That ghost is just a kid in a sheet.”

I could go on with my rambling, gushing and quoting of lyrics, but I suggest you do like me and wrap yourself up in these songs, voices, and harmonies for the rest of the day. The whole album is available on Spotify, iTunes and other streaming services. Also, make sure you order the vinyl (out on February 22nd) or buy a ticket to one of their concerts to support these two great artists and their work.

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