Melbourne’s Oh Pep! make indie-pop with the emphasis on “pop”: Their songs are smooth-running, precision-crafted melodic machines that just happen to be written and performed by two or three people instead of a factory. The couple in their new single “Your Nail and Your Hammer” first meet at a government office while they’re waiting to get their Social Security cards. The flat grey boredom of the setting — like finding love at the DMV — makes the romantic sparks seem a little brighter. “Bust through the ceiling and I’m sailing away/I got your record coming in the mail now any day,” singer-guitarist Olivia Hally swoons, with bandmate Pepita Emmerichs’ harmonies upping the sweet heartache. It’s the best of the song’s several great hooks, the one that feels most like a lost Beatles or Squeeze pre-chorus.
Soon the song’s mood turns darker. “Send me rhymes, send me reason for your crimes/And I will build a lullaby and sing us all to sleep when the end is nigh,” Hally sings once it’s clear that this meet-cute has been a mistake. (How great is that rhyme/reason line?) She’s said that “Your Nail and Your Hammer” is based on a backstory she imagined for a random stranger, which makes sense. This isn’t a tear-stained confession, it’s a writer’s exercise in seeing how vivid a daydream she can spin out of a chance interaction. The answer is pretty damn dreamy.
Oh Pep!’s second album, I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You…, is out October 26th on ATO.