Oxbow has released their much-anticipated album, Love’s Holiday, and along with it, they’ve shared a video for their new track “Lovely Murk“, featuring Lingua Ignota. The buzz around the album has landed the band on the covers of The Wire UK and New Noise France, with features in several other media outlets, including The Quietus.
In a little over a month, Oxbow will kick off their UK/EU tour, which will subsequently be followed by a tour in the US (additional dates to be announced). You can secure your tickets now and also check out a playlist of “Love Songs” that inspired the album.
If you’re yearning for a musical expedition that deviates from the predictable, Oxbow’s Love’s Holiday might just be the voyage you need. Marking the band’s return since 2016’s Thin Black Duke, Love’s Holiday preserves the band’s signature power, instigative creativity, and inspiring quality, reaffirming that Oxbow’s music is an unyielding force, even amidst an ever-changing world.
Much like the evolution of Oxbow’s own sound, from their art rock, noise, neoclassical, and jazz blend in 2017’s Thin Black Duke to a more subdued, nuanced sonic canvas in Love’s Holiday, the band has matured. This maturity mirrors the life transformations of guitarist Niko Wenner, whose new familial bonds and losses thread their way through the album. Yet, it is far from a cloying exploration of sentimentality.
The album brings an introspective look at love through lead singer Eugene Robinson’s lyrics, infusing the familiar with a sense of impending danger. This existential exploration is paired with a softer, more comforting sonic experience, exhibiting a warmth not felt in Oxbow’s earlier work. The harmonious blend of Wenner’s guitar, Dan Adams’s bass, and Oliver Kraus’s strings on tracks like “Lovely Murk,” create an emotionally-charged narrative, articulating love’s paradoxes and inevitable endings.
The album soars when it transcends boundaries, such as in “All Gone,” with its spectral choir and poignant lyrics that cut to the core of human longing and loss. Yet, while Oxbow’s more direct approach to music is refreshing, Love’s Holiday occasionally lacks the chaotic allure and complexity that characterized their previous work.
Although Love’s Holiday doesn’t quite reach the high bar set by Thin Black Duke, it still provides insight into the essence of Oxbow by stripping away some of the violent undertones of their earlier sound. This iteration of Oxbow may be a different creature from the one fans have come to know, but the band’s willingness to reinvent themselves while adhering to their innate, trust-based creative process is laudable.
As bassist Adams puts it, the challenge of navigating the wide ocean of musical possibilities can lead to both extraordinary creations and the risk of sinking into obscurity. Yet, Oxbow manages to stay afloat, never sinking for too long. Despite any potential pitfalls, Love’s Holiday attests to Oxbow’s ability to continually meet and surpass their own high standards, with Robinson and Wenner at the helm, and a strong rhythm section that keeps the music grounded.
Time will tell how Love’s Holiday stacks up against Oxbow’s past work, but for now, it’s clear it holds its own.