Oliver Tree has switched his persona from Turbo, the obnoxious, scooter riding, bowl haircut loving, self-stylized meme come to life that propelled him onto the music scene two years ago. He now appears as an exaggerated parody of a country singer, adorned with a two-tone deep ocean and baby blue cowboy tuxedo to launch his new album Cowboy Tears (Atlantic).
Still rooted in pop music, this new album is a dark dance inducing breakup letter reminiscent of the angst-tinged, society-rejecting pop music of the 1990s. The songs alternate between thematic jangling country guitar with banjo-pickin’ chunky static emo riffs, and a mixture of rap and hip-hop that Tree’s songs are known for.
The song “Get Well Soon” starts with a countrified guitar and quirky southern accent, but it quickly transitions into a velvety-melodic pop verse that sounds as if the Beatles got in one time machine, Oliver Tree got in another, and the two styles collided in 1995. Within a moment, Tree switches lanes and launches into a low-fi, electronic, alternate hip-hop section with tripped-out sensibilities that will smack a Snoop Dogg ‘sticky-icky’ level of stank on your face.
As Tree continues to express his sad goodbye to a lover, the song “Cigarettes” takes a decidedly dark turn, lyrically anyway, while still staying true to that signature wink-wink Oliver Tree humor.
For me, the song that stood out most on this album, “Playing with Fire”, sounds as if Bone Machine era Tom Waits and Kurt Cobain decided to collab on a song with an 808 bass. The drop in this track will leave you wanting to drop right along with it!
For those who are interested in seeing this phenomena for themselves, Oliver Tree is coming to the House of Blues in Boston on Friday, March 11th, 2022, and is on the lineup for the first night of Boston Calling on Friday, May 27th. Tickets are on sale now, so better move fast!