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Oh My God

The Night Undoes The Work Of The Day


[Split Red; 2009]



By ; October 7, 2009 


Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Everybody has seen a band go through sweeping transformations, whether it be lineup changes, attitude adjustments, or a “reinventing” of the band’s sound, only to see the band lose what made it great in the first place. After a series of unfortunate events, this is the fear looming in the mind of every Oh My God fan waiting to hear The Night Undoes The Work Of The Day.

While on tour for their last album, 2007’s Fools Want Noise, Oh My God was involved in a high speed collision with a drunk driver, causing not only the cancellation of that tour, but also many months of physical rehabilitation for all the parties involved. Two members left the band, leaving just singer Billy O’Neill and keyboardist Ig to pick up the pieces. To add insult to injury, O’Neill and his wife separated, and Ig’s spouse was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In short, Oh My God went through the perfect storm of misfortune capable of taking down even the most resilient bands, and these weren’t the most stable people to begin with.

All this comes at a time when the band is transitioning sonically. It wasn’t until the 2007 tour that the band employed a full-time guitarist. While there had been instances of guitar in their early work, the guitar only ever functioned as decoration around Ig’s keyboard buzz. The guitar was just beginning to break through as a lead instrument when the band had their auto crash. Perhaps as a result, it can be very difficult at times to identify where the guitar is on this record. That doesn’t mean they’ve returned to their old sound; few of the songs here sound like what we’ve come to expect from Oh My God.

Frankly, it’s a surprise there even is a new Oh My God album. More surprising still is how optimistic the record sounds. Sure, there are some pretty morose subtexts to these songs, such as “Baby There’s Nothin’ Wrong (You Just Gotta Go To Work),” “I Don’t Think It’s Funny (How Time Slips Away),” and “Strangers On A Train.” However, this is the most pop sounding record the band has recorded. The grinding keyboards that typified Oh My God are absent from most of the tracks, with more traditional sounding piano taking its place. Less than half the album features Ig’s signature keyboard-crunch. Of those tracks, it’s “I Dare You To Love Me” that harkens back to their classic sound the most, and not coincidently it is the strongest track on the album. The cover of the Fixx’s 1983 classic “One Thing Leads To Another” also stands out as a great Oh My God performance. That’s not to say the smoother piano sound doesn’t have a charm of its own. Nothing Oh My God has previously recorded comes close to approximating the crushing loneliness of “Strangers On A Train,” nor has the band previously been able to touch on the tenderness of “My Juliet.”

Yet, there is something missing here. It’s hard not to miss the confrontational fury of Fools Want Noise when listening to these tracks. There is some anger is present here, but for the most part the album lacks the fervent assault of Oh My God’s past work. Given the circumstances of the band members, it’s understandable why Oh My God made a record like this. To be fair to the band, this album marks a departure sonically from the past. The problem is the new sound doesn’t feel fully fleshed out. The record doesn’t pulsate like one expects an Oh My God album to, which isn’t a failure to meet expectations as much as it is a lack of energy in the majority of the songs. Perhaps they haven’t recovered quite enough yet to resume business as usual. In spite of all this, the album manages to be an interesting listening experience. The Night Undoes The Work Of The Day is the document of a band that’s been roughed up pretty badly, but even a wounded Oh My God can exorcise a few demons.


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