Sometimes I am far too fussy for my own and it is rare that I give CDs “full marks” but Oaf is a band that is certainly deserving of a ten out of ten review. Initially being drawn to them a few years back due to being a fan of Exit_International – this two-piece features a bassist/vocalist (Dom Lawson) and drummer (James Rayment), but I swiftly learnt that the two bands aren’t really alike! – I quickly fell in love with their individual and somewhat humorous style, with their first album Botheration featuring songs with titles like Giant Ballbag and Tiny When Erect and even a cover of Blancmange’s Living On The Ceiling for good measure! Now they are back with their second album Birth School Oaf Death, which is an even better offering than their debut release and features guest appearances from Ginger Wildheart, Jase Edwards and many more!
The album opens with an introduction, appropriately titled The Oaferture II (The Oaferture was the opening track of Botheration). Featuring some magnificent saxophone courtesy of Pete Fraser, it is a wonderful cacophony of noise and chaos which leads in nicely to the first “full” track, We Know Why You’re Rubbish At Darts, which gets things fully underway. The perfect choice to kick off the album, the chorus is wildly addictive and if you don’t get the urge to start yelling “we know why you’re rubbish at darts” by the end of it then there has to be something wrong with you!
The third track is titled Kill The Stupid People, which instantly made me want to like it due to the fact I deal with stupid people on a regular basis! This song even has a guitar solo from Jase Edwards and it fits right in, not seeming out-of-place even if Oaf is a band that doesn’t generally utilise anything more than a four-stringed instrument.
Yes Sir, I Can Tina Turner is a song that has an accompanying t-shirt. The introduction begins with drums and a squealing bass before things get properly underway with yelled vocals backed up with the drums being bashed for every syllable. It ends with a long and prolonged scream, with Dom humorously noting at the end that he was “trying to see how long he could do it for”. Meanwhile, the following track Eggbound is a bit of an epic. At over 8 minutes long, I was worried it would feel a little long and drawn out but actually it is the opposite – the length works well and really gives the song depth, especially with the accompanying hammond organ played by Per Wiberg.
Marker Pen Cocks brings the tempo right up again, contrasting nicely with Eggbound due to it being a lot more energetic. It has some wonderful falsetto vocals in the chorus and group vocals half-sung half-shouted at the end and the little comment at the end of “what else can we play?” was amusing to say the least.
Of course, amusing doesn’t come close to describing what is swiftly becoming their most popular song, F*ck Off Seagull which is (unsurprisingly) about a seagull. As Dom once commented at a gig – “I pour my heart out into all the songs with poignant lyrics and all everyone wants to hear is the song about a f*cking seagull!” and rightly so, because it is a work of art if I do say so! Not only is the song catchy and features a chorus that is so easy to join in with that you can be yelling along by the end, it also has a guest appearance by the legend that is Ginger Wildheart, so if that isn’t reason enough to go out and listen to it then I don’t know what is.
However, the epic finale of Wash Your Faith In My Think is a direct contrast to the light-heartedness of F*ck Off Seagull. Perfectly blended together, this is another one of the more memorable tracks of the album – albeit for different reasons than simply it’s a “funny track” because quite simply, it’s a bit of a mini-masterpiece. It definitely leaves you with food for thought and the album winds up nicely with a bonus cover of Neil Diamond’s Love On The Rocks at the very end.
All in all, Birth School Oaf Death is a magnificent release and whilst this album does happen to feature their infamous song about a seagull, there are also some deeper songs that really showcase their musicianship as shown by Eggbound and Wash Your Faith In My Think. If you’re going to check out one band this year then make sure it’s this one because their uniqueness is refreshing in an all-too-familiar sea of bands that all sound the same.