Oxen is just a couple of guys from Stockholm who happen to make great rock songs. Erik Hases
and Stefan Söderqvist have, over the course of the year, released a string of singles that differ vastly from one another, connected almost entirely by the dual-part vocal harmonies that ground many of their songs. “Limbo” arrived back in the spring with overdriven surf melodies and finger-snapping grooves; “Soulmate,” which followed just a couple of months later, is a barren piano-and-percussion anthem in the style of the ’70s and ’80s. “Postpone” (stream above), the band’s newest, is outright catchy, relying on a contrast between sixteenth-note percussion and quarter-note guitar strums (and some single notes in gradual triplets) for its visceral, tropically-infused excitement.
“Postpone” combines effect-drenched vocal production that recalls garage rock and Black Lips-esque “flower pop” with a miles-deep groove that steadily accumulates catharsis for the song’s comparatively explosive choruses. It’s the quasi-title track of Oxen’s debut album, Postpone & Forget (out in late November), which further adds to the diversity of the duo’s portfolio. A track titled “Rushing Times” consists primarily of quiet, xylophone-like, whimpering keys, percussion that barely registers, and fragile, high-register vocals that boldly declare love for the song’s subject. Another song, “Where Are You Now,” clatters with the haunt of post-punk as it maps out its path with dissonant, alternately plucked guitar notes that eventually lead to a howling back half.
What makes “Postpone” a standout track, then, is that is has some of almost every approach Oxen tries on the album. It starts as an exciting, upbeat exploration in the vein of “Limbo,” it carries a guitar-plucking pattern throughout that’s not dissimilar to the one in “Where Are You Now,” and it reaches a bridge as delicate as the entirety of “Rushing Times” (though in a more lo-fi, foaming-at-the-mouth kind of way). As a short preview of Oxen’s breadth of talent, it’s ideal.