February 9, 2009: The Oranges Band, The Oranges Band Are Invisible

If we’re going by pure number of listens (thank you, last.fm, for keeping me honest), then The Oranges Band is clearly one of my favorite bands of the past few years, and 2005’s The World & Everything In It one of my most listened-to albums. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about it, just good solid catchy indie guitar rock from a band with some of the clipped, spiky postpunk aspects of Spoon and Who-style windmilling anthemics of Guided By Voices, but with much sweeter melodies and a surfy momentum no doubt inspired by the odd Pixies track. What makes them stand out as more than mere imitators is bandleader Roman Kuebler’s sharp songwriting; there’s this strain of OCD-like repetition in his lyrics and song structures that I find appealing, somehow coming across as intense and focused rather than tiresome.

It was a shame that The World & Everything In It never had much of a chance to gain an audience, due to its label running out of money shortly after putting it out. For a long time after that, The Oranges Band disappeared, and I assumed they had broken up. But 2008 saw some stirrings of activity: Kuebler started a song-of-the-month club/web content subscription scheme called Every 7th and kept an occasional recording diary at popmatters.com, the results of which are the band’s recently self-released third album The Oranges Band Are Invisible.

Is it good? Well, it’s a little on the short side (just under 35 minutes) and perhaps not quite as focused as previous albums, but it’s still pretty good. With ex-GBV guitarist Doug Gillard joining the lineup (at least for the album), the band has some newfound rock muscle to flex, and they do so quite well on “Ottobar Afterhours” and “Do You Remember Memory Lane?”. There’s also a hint of their old off-kilter selves in the choppy “I Wouldn’t Worry About It”, which sounds like an old Spoon song written backwards. The back half of the album is a little soft— by default, I think that instrumentals by rock bands are kind of lame, and treat them as guilty until proven innocent, and “Absolutely Instru(Mental)” is no exception to this rule— so it’s not quite the full triumphant movie-script comeback, but it’s a promising start.