The impulse is to cast off oOoOO as a producer too tied to a bygone buzzed-about electronic music sub-sub-genre now two years in our wake. It’s true, oOoOO’s new EP, Our Loving Is Hurting Us, doesn’t make much effort to pull the San Francisco producer from the decayed wreckage of the style of pliant-kneened, dystopic electro he helped create on his NoSummer4U mixtape and eponymous EP, both released in 2010 as witch house was cresting with groups like Salem, White Ring, and Balam Acab. Due to blog-genre, hype-cycle stigmas it’s hard not to feel like Loving Is Hurting Us is DOA, but I kind of like witch house, even beyond the novelty, and I thought oOoOO, especially with tracks like “Burnout Eyes” and “Sedsumting”, offered up something as keenly defined as Salem’s “King Night” or Balam Acab’s “See Birds”, which are both still great cuts.
Christopher Greenspan has an ear for slinky pop melodies and while the “witch house” denominations have stuck with him where other outfits may have shook them off going forward, Greenspan exceeds at creating minimally layered, airtight R&B-informed pop songs that occupy a more classically goth-electro, dark ambient atmosphere. “Springs” with its dozed-off female vocal coos and twinkling synth textures sounds like a bedroom pop version of Vangelis’ languishing synth treks. “Starr” glides along a foreboding, jagged drone while little bits of warped vocal, piano, and brass pulse inward before a full blown guitar solo burns the icy air around it at the track’s end. The songwriting is better than it has to be. The tracks usually find a symmetrical path through their alternately angelic and leering textures, tiny ear worm-y melodies shifting and guiding the songs.
It does sound a lot like oOoOO and under scrutiny with A-B comparisons, Our Loving Is Hurting Us is pretty starkly more of the same. But I’m having a hard time feeling upset about it. I like what’s here, especially the two aforementioned tracks. There’s nothing quite as well arranged as “Burnout Eyes” or as beautifully weird as “Sedsumting” or as memorable as either, but Our Loving Is Hurting Us proves more consistently listenable and Greenspan’s programming chops have certainly come a ways. It’s easy to imagine these tracks really excelling with someone like, say, Abel Tesfaye at the helm. As it is, and despite how enjoyable the EP can be, I do have the nagging feeling that Greenspan is a little behind the curve, fading into irrelevance by the hour. Whether that’s the annoyingly pervasive presence of indie and electronic’s attitude toward an artist’s progression or Our Loving Is Hurting Us on its own terms, two years removed from oOoOO, remains to be seen.