Obits, Moody, Standard and Poor

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 03.25.11 in Reviews

Singer/guitarists Rick Froberg and Sohrab Habibion formed this quartet five years ago, but they've individually been at it a lot longer than that: They respectively fronted Drive Like Jehu and Edsel in the early '90s. Which is to say that by now, they know exactly what they like — terse, indignant, crackling garage rock built around monomaniacal rhythms, twin-guitar thrust-and-parry, as few chords as possible, and a nearly inestimable debt to Iggy and the Stooges' "I Got a Right" single.

Terse, indignant, crackling garage rock

Within that framework, the band's second album is totally on target. Obits are sharp about letting their songs breathe, opening up the wall of fuzz to let Habibion and Froberg's guitars crouch and pounce at each other, and paring down their lyrics to a few smart-stupid lines. ("I got a girl! She's all right! Don't she look better! In direct light!" Froberg hollers on "Everything Looks Better in the Sun.") Extra points for concision, for brainy wit (the album's named after a pair of credit rating agencies, and "Shift Operator" is a math joke), and for a pair of tracks that revive the nearly lost art of the garage-punk instrumental.