Credit: Shervin Lainez
by Andrew Bosma Music Obscure Object

Lake Street Dive | Obviously

April 7, 2021

Obviously is the perfect blend of genres and tone, showcasing each musician’s specific talents while presenting a cohesive album destined to be a staple in their catalog.

After three years, Lake Street Dive returns with another fresh and vibrant album that bends the genres of pop and soul, with a smattering of each of the child prodigy bandmember’s jazz roots. Filled with sweet but never saccharine hooks, and bridges fit for only the finest dance breaks, Obviously is a major triumph for the band, who are known for their particularly engaging live shows.

It would only make sense that a group of such diverse talents would enlist producer Mike Elizondo, who has produced for nearly every type of musician out there. This was a bold choice for the band, who chose to self-produce their previous record (likely due to a variety of label and producer disputes in the past). The record runs a tight 40 minutes and none of the tracks overstay their welcome, covering important topics from climate change to defining femininity. The album opens with the infectious “Hypotheticals,” also the record’s leading single. The track is about uncertainty, a common feeling in the world, and opens with a smooth series of vocal runs from lead Rachel Price, its lines quickly punctuated by a vibe-worthy drum beat that guides the rest of the song. “Making Do” operates as a sort of call and response about the future of our planet and actions that we can take, the line “Everybody knew / Reading all the same headlines / Blowing through the traffic signs / Looking for the cops” referring to the idea that we all know the steps we can take, and it’s time to act. On a lighter register, “Know That I Know” tells of a casual relationship turning serious with cheeky nods to notable pairs: “Yeah, we’re like baseball and hot dogs / You’re Ferris Bueller and I’m your day off.”

These sorts of variations between tracks make the album endlessly listenable: It’s never too serious to be upsetting and never too relaxed to be glib. The album closes with the acapella “Sarah,” an ode to an ending relationship. The traditional-sounding instrument-free vocals are marked by some slight technical vocal effects that add a modern flair to the classic sound. And this is what Lake Street Dive sets out to do, to combine the classic and the modern to create something fresh but recognizable. The best album the band has put out to date, Obviously features every extremely talented member operating at career-best levels. It’s also just plain fun to listen to — entirely deserving of the undoubtedly energetic response they’ll receive when they eventually hit the road.

Published as part of Album Roundup — March 2021 | Part 1.