Now this is a surprise we can get behind! At midnight on Thursday, Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst surprise-dropped a collaborative self-titled album for their new band, Better Oblivion Community Center. The album is available now on digital and streaming platforms, and the physical release will be available on Feb. 22 via Dead Oceans.
Bridgers and Oberst also performed a track from the album last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which you can watch below.
Better Oblivion Community Center was co-written and co-produced by Bridgers and Oberst, with additional production from Andy LeMaster. It features appearances from Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Carla Azar (Autolux, Jack White), Christian Lee Hutson and Anna Butterss, as well as Dawes’ Wylie Gelber and Griffin Goldsmith (Oberst’s backing band on his Upside Down Mountain tour). Bridgers and Oberst wrote and recorded in Los Angeles in the summer and fall of 2018.
Bridgers and Oberst first met back in 2016 when Bridgers opened for Oberst on his solo tour and he was immediately struck by her talent. Oberst later contributed vocals to “Would You Rather,” a track from Bridgers 2017 debut LP, Stranger in the Alps. Better Oblivion Community Center is Bridgers’ first full-length since Stranger in the Alps and Oberst’s first full-length since his 2017 solo record, Salutations.
The band had been teasing the project on social media for several weeks. In December, the band set up cryptic social media accounts that shared photos of brochures and a park bench advertisement, positioning their band name as a fictional enterprise. The “center” apparently offers ludicrous alternative medicine options like “dry ice meditation,” “sacred crystal planting and removal,” and downright laugh-out-loud “assisted self-care” and “pineal gland expression.” Some of the photos also contain a phone number and when you call the number, there’s an answering machine message from “reverend Christian Lee Hutson” (who plays guitar on their record), saying he’ll be visiting the aforementioned “community center” to give a symposium. Earlier this week, they also posted teasers on YouTube containing audio messages similar to their voicemail. Though it’s likely just an effective, droll marketing tool, rather than an artistic insight into the record, it’s a welcome sliver of mystique in a current musical landscape that’s starving for more enigmas.
Better Oblivion Community Center are going on tour this March and April, with dates to be announced soon, and the pair will also perform on CBS This Morning on Saturday, Jan. 26.
Stream Better Oblivion Community Center here and watch their Colbert performance below. Check out the album artwork and tracklist further down.
Better Oblivion Community Center Album Artwork:
Better Oblivion Community Center Tracklist:
01. I Didn’t Know What I Was in For
03. Dylan Thomas
04. Service Road
05. Exception to the Rule
07. My City
08. Forest Lawn
09. Big Black Heart