On March 17th, 2017, Washington, DC’s indie rock/emo pop band, The Obsessives made their mark on the scene with an already dense and musically packed debut record. Fast forwarding to today, the band has re-released their debut LP with an additional ten tracks for a more complete picture of their recording process during the self-titled sessions. Citing musical inspirations from bands such as Weatherbox and The Pixies, The Obsessives waste little time in putting their stamp on their re-imagined record.
The duo of vocalist/guitarist Nick Bairatchnyi and drummer Jackson Mansfield make up the band, who formed initially at the tender age of fifteen when they bonded over their love of similar musical tastes. Their debut record is a great homage to the bands they grew up obsessing over, while it still maintains a sense of their musical strengths along the way. I was reminded of other 90’s rock bands such as Marcy Playground and Weezer while navigating through this re-imagined record. The down-tuned guitars, steady beats, and matter-of-fact vocals courtesy of Bairatchnyi mesh well over the 24 tracks.
Led by their new single, “Over and Over” the band knows just when to seize their moment in the limelight and take advantage of when they need to mix in a tempo/mood change in their song to fully grab the listeners’ attention. The track itself is filled with crunchy guitars and features a unique melodic breakdown at the midway point to help drive their vision home.
Other songs such as “Surfer Rosa” finds the singer looking back on past relationships and ponders what he could have done differently to make it work out. Lyrics such as, “Baby, I can’t remember/The last time I pleased you/Baby, can you remember/The last time I made you feel good,” show Bairatchnyi doubting himself in this particular relationship. He further distances himself from these doubts when he lets go of his fears on the insanely catchy chorus. It’s one of the stronger moments on the LP, both musically and lyrically, as it strikes the best balance between being solid ear-candy while still finding enough substance for repeat listens.
The reoccurring themes of doubt, fear, and wanting to fit in bounce across the sprawling 24-track album semi-seamlessly. The Obsessives summarize a lot of these themes particularly well in songs like “Now She’s Smoking” and “When One Thing Ends.”
While the band does not cover too much new ground in their lengthened record, they still have enough memorable moments to look back upon fondly. The Obsessives are planning on using the celebration of this new version of their debut as a launching pad for further inspiration into new music coming later in 2019. Emo never comes in a “one size fits all” package, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it for what it is.