By: Rebecca Lower
Scott Masson is Office's singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and engineer, and film buffs will recognize the title, A Night at the Ritz (New Line/Scratchie), and it's apt here. New Line Records' parent company released the first "blockbuster created by YouTube", last summer's Snakes On A Plane. That was when Office got noticed, too, charting on iTunes and scoring a slot at Lollapalooza. Selling out a month long residency at their hometown (Chicago) venue Schubas doesn't hurt buzz, either.
The exec producer title belongs to co-owner of Scratchie Records, James Iha, and Masson's certainly heard a Smashing Pumpkins record or two. "Plus Minus Fairytale" drones, "I may be a vampire/ But you're a better vampire/…I'm carving a pumpkin in your resemblance". Coincidence? "Oh My" is one of the best album openers in recent memory. Sure, you can hear the influences - The Jam, The Clash, The Cars, New Order - but they're so well hidden you won't hate finding them on later listens. Office dovetails well with other, indefinable modern music makers like Scratchie labelmates and college radio faves Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes) and Midnight Movies.
Of the thirteen tracks here, "Company Calls" stands out. It has a sing-a-long chorus and the dark-pop sensibilities of Arcade Fire. But, "Suburban Perfume" and older track "Q & A" miss the mark; the former, too quiet and frankly DOA, the latter, flabbier than the rest of this svelte record. Still, it's pretty impressive that Office manages to reference discothèque staples Pet Shop Boys ("Dominoes") and still remain cool.
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