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Obits- Moody, Standard and Poor (Album Review)

On their debut album, 2009’s I Blame You, the Obits sounded like a potentially great band whose members were still figuring out how to write material that matched the force and power of their sound. The Obits’ second album, Moody, Standard and Poor, suggests that they still haven’t resolved the minor flaws that dogged I Blame You, but this time around that seems to matter less. What made I Blame You work was the way Rick Froberg and Sohrab Habibion bounced their guitars off one another — lean, echo-laden leads wrapped around thick, chunky chords that complemented one another like tequila and lime — and bassist Greg Simpson and drummer Scott Gursky gave them just the right sturdy platform for their six-string interplay, and over the course of two years the band has only gotten tighter, better, and stronger at what it does. The best songs on Moody, Standard and Poor are the ones that let the Obits indulge in the interplay that’s their musical reason to be, and when they lock in on “You Gotta Lose,” “I Want Results,” “Beggin’ Dogs,” and “New August,” they sound like the first really great guitar band to emerge from the indie underground in years. As far as coming up with great melodic figures or clever lyrics, Moody, Standard and Poor is ultimately no better or worse than the debut; “No Fly List” is a pretty impressive litany of insults and “You Gotta Lose” confirms that Froberg has the garage rock sneer down, but his phrasing on “I Want Results” is sloppy enough that you might mistake the chorus for “I watch the soaps” on first listen. But what the Obits do reasonably but not remarkably well isn’t as important as where they excel on Moody, Standard and Poor, and when the pieces mesh just right, this band does guitar back-and-forth as well as anyone since Television, and rocks a whole lot harder to boot.