Classic, exuberant indie rock offers alternative to the modern, dour variety
From Arcade Fire to Death Cab for Cutie, today’s hottest indie and post-indie bands traffic in polish and gravity, while classic indie rock’s slapdash gusto subsides. But there apparently remain some bands who remember “college rock,” the distinguishing characteristics of which included having one or two guys who could kinda sing belting their hearts out; lots of raw, jangling riffage; and joyously nonsensical lyrics. Brooklyn’s Oxford Collapse is among them. On “Electric Arc,” two high-strung tenors swap manic lines over a wanton throb with silvery guitar riffs, while “Vernon-Jackson” and other songs feature noodly post-Pavement arpeggios. Oxford Collapse is uncommonly muscular for this type of band, rather like Les Savy Fav by way of R.E.M., and they’re most engaging when flexing this muscle (“The Birthday Wars,” “Back of the Yards,” etc.). When they attempt to branch out, as on the Arthur Russell-style, cello-and-voice experiment “A Wedding,” the vocal deficiencies shed their nostalgic charm, and we wait for them to rev up again.