For being a band so shamelessly retro in its past, it’s amazing the way Oranger’s press clippings turn to such pinnacle markers as the Beatles, the Who, and the Beach Boys for descriptive aid. It’s at least interesting that they do so in such a celebratory fashion, not that Oranger doesn’t deserve it. Then, upon hearing this band, it becomes obvious: these are not the bands Oranger sounds like. No, these bands are historical tools Oranger uses to accomplish something. Pulling from these ever-influential acts in ways fans of Pavement, the Pixies, and even Weezer will be able to recognize, Oranger’s fourth album, New Comes and Goes, displays a distinct sound that is so tried-and-true that, at any given moment, it will be able to accept success with open arms.
There is a moment of psychedelic fizzle in the title track, present in place of the classic guitar solo, that represents this record perhaps better than anything. It’s a total Pixies move to build up to a great guitar solo and then not deliver, and in this way Oranger is a success: the band panders to the norm and then pulls a complete 180 at the last second. Oranger’s ability to manipulate the classic elements of rock ‘n’ roll is hard to beat, but the band can back it up with modern application, too. The Orange Peels valiantly attempted a similar sound with their Circling the Sun but ultimately came across far too sickly sweet and summery. Other bands try similar uses of these aspects to excessive quantity. Oranger has even succumbed to these pitfalls of too extreme throwback in the past, only hinting at transcending this apparent trap. But now, Oranger is not too much of anything.
Perhaps more than most other bands, Oranger actually deserves the overused comparisons to classic bands for its effort in picking apart the pieces of these canonized rock gods without shame. On New Comes and Goes Oranger rearranges these aspects, resulting in a record that is not exactly timeless, but will put up a hell of a fight to go out of date. Tracks jump from one to the next without as much as a breath between them, the result a rock ‘n’ roll smothering we all enjoy sometimes. Chunky guitars bleed into explorations through seldom trodden sonic ground and, to boot, Oranger does this well. Like the New Pornographers, Oranger opts for straightforward, three-minute songs performed by a quintet that sounds like a pop orchestra, emulating in every way the dramatic structure of the rock of ages but delivering it in a distinctly modern fashion.
For example, the driving, constant rhythm of “Outtatoch” hearkens to some of the greatest stoner accomplishments of all time, but this is mere backbone: it’s the melodically dense stratums of other instruments that pin this as something different. This is telling of the band’s sound throughout the album. It’s about a give and take to a familiar sound, and Oranger—perhaps once stingy with what it took—has found a way to come out on a level playing field.
Even this album’s title is telling: New Comes and Goes could just as easily be Oranger’s mission statement. This band does not seem interested in being the hot, new thing. As evidenced by interviews, Oranger wants to be a constant, a monolith of rock ‘n’ roll that shows its contemporaries there is a zone of comfort and consistency that does not require boredom or downsizing. In this light, the band succeeds in only a cursory way, but the important thing is the push in the right direction: the slight shedding of skin that comes with each effort. And, at the end of the day, you know that Oranger, with its next effort, will still be solid. Probably even more so than they are right now.
// Notes from the Road
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