Morrow vs. Hajduch: Oh! Pears’ Fill Your Lungs EP

By Scott Morrow and Patrick Hajduch
December 22, 2010

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Oh! Pears: Fill Your LungsOh! Pears: Fill Your Lungs EP (3/13/10)

Oh! Pears: “Fill Your Lungs”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Oh_Pears_Fill_Your_Lungs.mp3|titles=Oh! Pears: “Fill Your Lungs”]

Morrow: Guitarist Corey Duncan left indie rockers Pattern Is Movement in 2007, opting to focus on a solo chamber-pop project.  That project turned into Oh! Pears, a 13-piece ensemble that plays Duncan’s classically and pop-inspired pieces.

Released independently earlier this year, Fill Your Lungs is Oh! Pears’ promising debut EP.  It begins with rounds of looping acoustic-guitar riffs and pizzicato, staccato, and legato strings, with Duncan’s deep voices joining to guide the music.  The rest of the five-song release is accented with other sounds, but this marriage of guitars, cellos, and violas best defines the EP.

There are plenty of big-time melodies and harmonies, both instrumental and vocal.  By the end, however, it feels like too much of the same thing — particularly when the vocals start sounding a bit like Antony & The Johnsons (notably on “I’m a Forest”), which is not too flattering.

Hajduch: The 4/4 thump of “Helen,” coupled with the strings, reminds me of Patrick Wolf, who I think reached the apex of what you could do with this sort of melancholy chamber pop (before he exploded it into a million garish pieces, as evidenced by this cover artwork, which actually makes me uncomfortable).

But you’re right about how similar it is.  The vocals are pleasant, but they inevitably follow an instrument around rather than forging their own path.  The arrangements are just sort of there — a lot of fifths sliding up and down.  If you’re going to do that, you may just want to stick with a guitar?  It’s produced well, and I can’t really point to anything wrong with it per se, but this EP is about to make me get up and grab some coffee.  The drums of “I’m a Forest” hit hard and inject some much-needed energy, but it’s too little too late at this point.

I feel bad picking on this EP — again, there’s nothing about it that comes off as bad — but it just seems like wallpaper to me.  Perhaps I’m not the target market for this type of thing.

Morrow:  I’m a sucker for chamber pop, so I’m sort of the target market (or at least as much as an Estradasphere super-fan can be), so I’ll defend it.  It is, after all, an independently released debut EP.  Like most releases, there are some weaknesses, but I think that it’s a solid release from someone with a lot of potential.  And I think that some of those melodies are great.  Furthermore, at no point does he ever sing, “It’s you who puts me in the magic position”!

Hajduch: That’s a good approach.  I’m willing to play wait-and-see as well, as this release might not be super memorable, but it does show promise.  Also, for the record, it is now Gilbert Arenas who puts me in the Magic position.

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