The inimitable four-piece OXBOW announce their first new music in six years with the anticipated release of Love’s Holiday (July 21, Ipecac Recordings). The album is preceded today by the lead single “1000 Hours”– a song featuring Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish/Beck) and a video directed by John David Levy.
About the track, vocalist and lyricist Eugene Robinson comments: “’1000 Hours’ for the OXBOW completist, 100 percent ties into our other song “1000,’ thematically in my mind. But filming the video, given that I just had surgery a few days before, felt very much like Mann’s ‘Death in Venice’ to me. You know where waiting to die never felt more beautiful, which really feels like the essence of love. Or at least one of them.”
Guitarist Niko Wenner adds: “’1000 Hours’ began life with the bright, extroverted feel you hear most, but inevitably the darker introspective mood of the coda and intro emerged. Both qualities are essential to Love’s Holiday. Roger (backing vocals), John (video director) and Joe Chiccarelli (co-producer of Love’s Holiday with Wenner) all did extraordinary work to heighten these emotions.”
Previous OXBOW albums found their impetus in a lyrical framework provided by Robinson, with Wenner applying his musical compositions to the singer’s narratives. However, Love’s Holiday began with the music. “The music was chiefly inspired by and written for my family. We’ve had two children born and my father die while writing and working on this record,” Wenner says. “The songs are just a collection of music that I sang to my babies and then wrote guitar parts for, and brought to the band as, OXBOW songs.” Love, the guitarist confirms was the organizing principle behind these songs, even if they still carry the band’s signature brand of drama and conflict.
“I’ve always been chagrined that no one understood that our songs were love songs,” Robinson says while reflecting on the band’s output from the last 35 years. Love may not have been the most obvious music in their earlier work, but the subject has never been more obvious now.
One of the more apparent manifestations of this new approach is the orchestration on Love’s Holiday. OXBOW has often employed auxiliary instrumentation as an addendum to the guitars on their recordings, but this time around, human voices are the primary addition. Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota) lends her soaring, operative vocals to “Lovely Murk,” while the layered choral bed of “1000 Hours” was provided by Roger Joseph Manning Jr (Jellyfish/Beck). The album also features a 15-person choir plus strings, oboe, flute, and clarinet.
For the differences in the process, Love’s Holiday is still very much an OXBOW album. Across its 10 tracks, Love’s Holiday feels feverish, disorienting, hostile, beguiling, defeated, and triumphant.
Love’s Holiday track listing:
1. Dead Ahead
2. Icy White & Crystalline
3. Lovely Murk
4. 1000 Hours
5. All Gone
6. The Night The Room Started Burning
7. “ “
8. Million Dollar Weekend
9. The Second Talk
Love’s Holiday pre-orders, including limited-edition indie exclusive red and Ipecac marbled grey vinyl variants, as well as standard vinyl, CD and digital, are available now: https://oxbow.lnk.to/love.
OXBOW is Dan Adams (electrical/acoustic bass), Greg David (drums/percussion), Eugene S. Robinson (vocals), and Niko Wenner (guitars/pianos). The San Francisco-born band have released seven studio albums since their inception in 1988, with Pitchfork saying the foursome have released “some of the most eccentric heavy music albums ever.”