The influence of Conor Oberst extends far beyond weeping teenage girls and glossy spreads in hipster magazines. Artists with whom he's collaborated -- Cursive, Now It's Overhead, and Neva Dinova, with whom he released the split EP One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels last year -- are perfecting the deliberate storytelling and collision of minimalism and dissonance inherent in Oberst's works.
Such are the hallmarks of The Hate Yourself Change, the second album from this Omaha band. Taking its cues from frontman Jake Bellows' acoustic tour opening for Rilo Kiley early last year, Change strips away the stargazing dreaminess of Neva Dinova's first self-titled album in favor of a more refined sound grounded in lilting folk songs and glacially unfurling slowcore roars. In most places, this trembling pace isn't quite sustained by memorable poetry or arrangements. But a few songs -- the Bob Mouldy pop sugar of "She Can't Change" or the squalling guitar solos exploding on "Cold Calls" -- redeem this monotony. Better still is the booze-induced heartbreak of "I've Got a Feeling," where pedal steel and piano trumpet a chorus of "The world's a shitty place" with the heavy-lidded sigh of last call.
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