Oh My God

Interrogations and Confessions [Lightyear]

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On 2002's Action Album!, Oh My God dangled the ends of lyrics over scary precipices dropping between bass, drum, and organ. The approach heightened the album's tense, arty quake, but it was at the expense of accessibility (and, occasionally, listenability). Interrogations and Confessions (NoVo/Lightyear) wisely stresses songcraft over the avant-garde. But it doesn't shortchange the crackling kinetics that have always traveled between the trio's serrated iron triangle. Grooves bleed easily and oddly from the die-cut song patterns. But even when it is strikingly melodic, the album flirts merrily with disquiet. "Unbearable Pageant" and "Pearls of Wisdom" both work the chasm between organist Iguana and drummer Bish, filling in spots with blisteringly cool squelch, while the dark gaps still cut deep. Overhead floats vocalist/bassist Bill O'Neill, doing the robot-on-elastic-tightrope, and enticing you to join him. That's the great thing about Interrogations -- it's just as dangerous as Oh My God's previous, weirder work. But, like Spoon, the band has refined its formula to fit instrumental freakouts and shards of vocals into sparer and sparer patterns. "You'll deserve it/We all do/Mind's on fire/Stomach's full of glue," O'Neill sings over the chilly initial bass notes of "Volatile." He sounds like the black sheep relative who knows everyone's secrets, and when the song's bottom falls, out like you know it will, that's when the arguments and knives come out. Later, OMG accesses its latent OMD, with "Get Steady" and "Our Loves," both busting, lusty, vocal harmonies over straightforward progressions. That said, the songs still roil with threatening organ tones, and their lyrics are opaque enough to keep the band's mystique shrouded. Is O'Neill angry? Is he in love? Maybe Oh My God just likes the way a few well-placed words can cut cleaner and deeper than any dippy guitar solo.

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