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Oxbow Marks Its Return With The Sweet, Snarling And Ambitious 'Other People'

Oxbow's new album, <em>Thin Black Duke</em>, comes out May 5.
Oxbow's new album, <em>Thin Black Duke</em>, comes out May 5.

Over nearly three decades, the Bay Area band Oxbow has been nothing but uncompromising and unpinnable — a simultaneously snarling and sweet catawampus across experimental rock music. Oxbow's first album in a decade, Thin Black Duke, sees the band play with the romanticism of pop music, like Burt Bacharach arranging demented charts for sludge-downers Harvey Milk.

"We didn't plan it this way," vocalist Eugene Robinson tells NPR, "but as it happens the chilled horror of the current zeitgeist perfectly matches our intention with what we feel is a record of unparalleled beauty."

It's not like bells, strings and brass haven't been featured on Oxbow recordings before, but on a track like "Other People," premiering here with a lyric video of sorts by Chris Purdie, the arrangements are integral to the dark and perverse Baroque-ian pop schmaltz that bottoms out in heavy shoegaze-y chaos accented by blaring trumpets. It's nerve-chillingly beautiful, as Eugene Robinson croons and squeals and stutters and opens his soul wide to bark about the confusion of love and the bleakness of reality.

"He turns and returns and there is a residual tenderness for the man with the ax handle."

Thin Black Duke comes out May 5 on .

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