Hailing from Australia, Oh Pep! takes their listeners on a ride with their debut album Stadium Cake. With insightful and contemplative lyrics and intuitive and complementary instrumentals, Oh Pep! sits in the pocket of compassion and curiosity paving the way for a precise perception.
Oh Pep! — Peppy Beats and Powerful Words
“Bushwick” tunes in its strings with a surf- and drone-like mandolin swelling below soft and pleasant singing. The percussion is reminiscent of money in a jar, equipped with a tambourine rushing, and the lyrics run over the prevalent drumming like white water rapids.
Oh Pep! word paints by toying with the timing and tempo. With the line, “freeze, it’s minus degrees,” the music pauses with a drop beat, slowing to a down-beat rhythm for the bridge. The music then picks up with a rattling percussion, and the twangy mandolins and continuous nailing from the intricate percussion wrap the ending.
An exotic tribal tingling from the whirring bouzouki hypnotizes with the onset of “Wanting.” In “Wanting,” Oh Pep! molds a denseness with the instrumentation, and paired with the trills and frills from the mandolin, creates an unnerving quality.
The music breaks in a profoundness with “it’s your way all the time” issuing an acoustic vibe, as if “coming up for air” from a hallucinated trance. The song ends with a psychedelic intensity and with solid background vocals adding a ghostly energy.
“Crazy Feels” is a soliloquy, maybe spoken to someone, or maybe to the self, with a soft-spoken tone: “you gotta do what you have to do to make it easy for you.” With a calming violin, verses that play with one-note jumps, and a spaced-out and dreamy percussion pattern, “Crazy Feels” is a cavern of sound.
The harmonies swing in with an echoing effect, almost as if the voice repeating is the conscious mind, a projection of the self: “you can choose who the first to lose is.” As a chorus interjects with the uplifitng singing, “you gotta make your mind up,” the song closes with a sharp and flat set of notes, which pierce the sky.
With anxious, poppy beats and hyperactive percussion “keeping me up at nights,” “Doctor Doctor” pulsates in every direction. Sharp lyrics, like a slow-rap snap over these beeping, bopping, tumbling drumbeats, with a confidence: “I know what I want and it’s not what I need.” At the end, “Doctor Doctor” shreds with an alternative rock guitar phrasing, whining.
With the lyrics, “to fix the pain you’re gonna have to change,” Oh Pep! succeeds at telling a deep truth, with existential phrasings paired over an impactful and motivating rhythm pattern and beat. At the close of “Doctor Doctor,” Oh Pep! breaks the fourth wall with an important message: “there’s no room to doubt every minute of your life till you figure it out.”
The bouzouki is a constant bubbling in “Trouble Now,” sounding like the beaded doorways in a gypsy’s den. The mandolin plays with the chromatic scale adding dimension to an already dense state of sound. And as the bouzouki plays against the rest of the music, strumming off-key notes in synchronicity, a cool blend of sound bends the ear into uniqueness.
Pushing for Happiness
Slowly, the organ-like chords of “Tea Milk And Honey” purr in a prayer. A low, vibrating guitar waits, lurking under the vocals, “take time, take all the time you need.” The lyrics are paced out and powerful: “don’t ever run when you can walk.”
The words are laded with a certain confidence, “I won’t contribute to your polluted transaction,” loaded with protest: “I’ve got places to be that ain’t right here.” The guitar enters with the vocals ringing out, “I’ve been thinking about it / I’ve been worrying about it / Don’t you get it, I’ve been fretting,” resonating with me on deeper level.
In light of all the recent baffling and horrible, senseless tragedies, not only in our country but around the world, we need to band together in love, in peace, in support of each other and “just walk to the hill with everyone.”
The chord strikes further still with “she wont read the news on the T.V. / Tea, milk and honey never satisfy me.” I tend to shy away from the news, since I was little, because it is frightening what happens on our front porches and in our neighbors’ backyards, but we cannot go on feeling like a girl who “sings like a church with a choir in it… and wakes up heavy with a sunken heart.”
The drums may pick up on the purpose of the song, with a forceful passion, but “if you don’t understand where I am now / It’s better if we leave it” ends the song with an optimism; we can rise up, have hope, be better; people may knock us down, but we must keep pushing against tragedy with happiness.
“Only Everyone” has a cuckoo beat and ’60s style with a surfy mandolin, the ring-a-ding-a-ling and clapping percussion, and the “ah” of the background vocals. With a kind of madness and whirring, churning feeling of the music, “Oh Everyone” takes on the same qualities of the experimental Beatles, a la “I Am the Walrus.”
“The Situation” is angsty, melding the guitar and the vocals in a haunting melody. Violins spring in a cheerful and elegant hopefulness, lifting to a major note and melting the song into a minor chord. “Happenstance” meshes a chaotic cycle and warped sense of sound from the violin and mandolin into perfect sense, with slippery vocals sliding over marching beats, and interspersed with acoustic choruses.
With a heartbeat pounding, “The Race” “start[s] skipping.” Clapping vocals like a jumping-rope singsong rhyme little children chant in the playground escalade “over the mountain” and over a finger-plucking violin. A snare marches in in a roll and explodes into full drumming as the song switches tempo, “walking at a different pace”: “the first time you took it slow / The slower you go, the faster you know.”
A gargle, warbling sound opens “Seven Babies” with a wavy surf-rock-meeting-new wave folk. With an “ah oo” background and a syncopated, side stepping beat, the pop/rock drumming swings with the loose vibes of ’50s or ’60s rockabilly. And as “Seven Babies” closes, “I’m gonna lose myself” echoes in a far-away tunnel, like an after thought, or an epiphany.
In “Afterwards” the bouzouki comes in again, like a dream, only the heaviness of the guitar and drums and harshness from the violin’s strings turn the light, whirling sounds of the bouzouki into something lurid.
Oh Pep! wastes not a phrase, line, note, or beat in Stadium Cake. This album has something that I can’t place into words, but only use their own: “no time is wasted when you’re waking up slowly.” We must savor what we have and be grateful.