Obi Best


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L.A. singer/songwriter Alex Lilly, Obi Best's frontwoman, also tours and records as a backing vocalist for the Bird and the Bee, whose retro-inflected sophisti-pop makes an almost too handy reference point for her own work. It's an apt one, though, both in terms of Lilly's light-spirited, keyboard-based songwriting and, especially, her jazzy, mellifluent, and playfully nuanced voice, which is uncannily reminiscent of Inara George. But she's got her own distinctive style to offer as well, an infectious, wide-eyed freshness particularly evident in her curious approach to writing melodies. Fluid but quirky, swooping and sauntering with conspicuous pleasure through unexpected intervals and off-kilter rhythms, her melodic lines sometimes take on an otherworldly, vaguely oriental cast, as on "Origami" (fittingly enough) and the bouncy, carnivalesque "Swedish Boy" (perhaps more incongruously -- though the song is about "a made-up country" -- but to superbly catchy effect). The melodies mostly connect up well with Lilly's similarly ruminative, charmingly colloquial lyrics: the merger isn't always completely natural, as the words can come off clunky and half-formed (like on the somewhat perplexing rant "It's Because of People Like You"), but her beguiling voice and prevailing sweetness go a long way toward smoothing things over. Elsewhere, along with some touchingly ambivalent relationship songs, "Days of Decadence" and "Green and White Stripes" deal quite nicely with, respectively, nostalgia and ineffability. Songwriting aside, plenty of Capades' appeal lies in its playfully inventive soundscape. Lest one forget, Obi Best are, at least ostensibly, a band, comprised of L.A. studio vets (whose credits include work with Beck and Jenny Lewis) who adorn Lilly's guitar and piano stylings with all manner of fizzy, dreamlike sounds and lush, offbeat electronic effects, underscoring the warmth and whimsy that make this such a welcome, winsome debut.

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