A strong debut from indie’s new boy next door. Oscar delivers this years first ‘summer album’
It feels like Oscar’s debut album ‘Cut and Paste’ has been a long time coming. After gaining a legion of new fans following a year of touring, he has been drip-feeding us with new material along the way in preparation for his debut LP. Lucky for us, it has arrived right on time; ‘Cut and Paste’ is that indie-summer soundtrack we’ve been waiting for, full of colourful, sugary melodies with a quirky disposition, just aching to be doused in sunshine.
Rather appropriately, ‘Cut and Paste’ acts as a scrapbook for Oscar Scheller’s many eclectic influences; the album is full of fuzzy guitar riffs and off-kilter percussive beats with hints of hip-hop and 90s Britpop thrown in. Essentially though these are simple pop songs about love; and damn good ones at that.
Lyrically, Oscar doesn’t tend to go beyond surface level, meaning that the story of the album lies in its beautiful melodies and its wonderful production quality. Refreshingly, he stays close to that all-important DIY ethic with which he has become synonymous. Without being overly polished, his songs retain a youthful exuberance and lo-fi feel which wouldn’t sound out of place in a sweaty gig or in chilled, sun-soaked surroundings with friends. It shows that you don’t necessarily need deep lyrics to make a connection with the listener; these songs make you feel something, whether it’s bursting with optimism on songs such as ‘Be Good’ and ‘Good Things’ or more wistful and reflective on ‘Only Friend’ and ‘Gone Forever’.
The album transitions effortlessly between these moments, and is noticeably very well-paced. ‘Sometimes’ is a bold and brash opener, effectively setting the scene with its synth hooks and heavy reverb. It moves into the summery choruses of ‘Be Good’ and ‘Feel it Too’ before we meet latest single ‘Good Things’. It has an off-beat, reggae-infused swagger; his distinctive baritone so nonchalant and relaxed in delivery and giving the song that trademark carefree quality. Meanwhile, ‘Daffodil Days’ hits the heights of ‘Sometimes’ with a fizzing, guitar-driven chorus.
It’s not all sweetness and light though; ‘Breaking My Phone’ is angst-filled and heavier than anything else on the album. It’s a pure Britpop banger, hooked around the chorus ‘I keep on breaking my phone after I’ve spoken to you’. Where he lacks Damon Albarn’s penchant for social commentary, he makes up for in his ear for melody; this is melancholy with a modern twist.
Elsewhere, ‘Only Friend’ sees him duet with Marika Hackman, her sweet vocals providing dreamy melodies with his Morrissey-like baritone on a saccharine duet. ‘Fifteen’ is perhaps the darkest moment, bringing another dimension to the otherwise largely optimistic album. Its heavy bassline leads to a swooning chorus; our expectations of a sweet love song are diminished by the lyrics ‘Then I see your face and I want to die/ It’s how you make me feel’.
It may have been a long time coming, but Oscar’s debut album has been worth the wait. We may have heard the likes of ‘Sometimes’, ‘Daffodil Days’ and ‘Beautiful Words’ before but they are as fresh as ever, sounding even better in the context of this scrapbook album. It’s a collection of songs which fizzes and pops throughout, with just enough self-deprecation and love-struck melodrama for us to avoid a sugary overload. A strong debut from indie’s new boy next door; now all we need is sunshine.
‘Cut and Paste’ by Oscar is out now via Wichita Recordings
This Oscar article was written by Suzanne Oswald, a GIGsoup contributor