Album Review: “Obviously” by Lake Street Dive (with Track Rankings…Obviously)

retro looking photo of band, Lake Street Dive.

I mentioned this band in my 2020 anthems post about the songs that summed up my 2020. I had already discovered their song “Making Do” late in the year and thought it would be a contender for 2021 anthems. Since then, I heard Lake Street Dive’s latest single “Hypothetical” and fell in love with the entire album–nay, the entire band.

Lake Street Dive calls upon jazz, blues, the faintest tinge of Americana, and a general retro pop/old school sound to create chill vibes, fun songs, and down-to-earth lyrics. Their songs across past albums deal with a multitude of interesting concepts and novelty themes, like “Side Pony”, “Bad Self-Portraits”, and “Good Kisser” to name a few. Lead singer Rachael Price was trained as a jazz and blues singer, which lends a breath of fresh air in this band setting that often skews toward blues-rock or roots-rock. It gives all their songs a neo-soul and retro feel, even in the most modern of arrangements.

More than being any one particular genre, you should know Lake Street Dive is just a fun and easy band to listen to. The songs tell all, as they always do. Obviously, their 2020 release, is no different. I’m going to rank all the tracks on the album, from least favorite to most favorite, and talk a bit about each one–including its most memorable moment, for better or for worse.

This isn’t a marriage though. It’s Track Rankings!

Track Rankings – Lake Street Dive Obviously

11. “Sarah” – I’ve never really liked this song for a few reasons. First, it’s really vague and cryptic. “This is the last time that I say your name, that I play your game. Sarah, you can be sure.” My second problem with it is that the song melody and arrangement don’t match the tone and content of the song at all. Not in a fun, ironic way either. Rachael Price’s vocals are filtered through a vocoder, giving her an alien-like voice, while acapella, doo wop-style harmonies back her up. It’s an odd choice to say the least.

Most Memorable Moment: the odd, alien effect on the vocals.

10. “Feels Like the Last Time” – If you want, you could see this as the final arc in a story told on “Lackluster Lover”, “Anymore” and now “Feels Like the Last Time”. I don’t think that’s what they intended at all, but from a storytelling perspective you could make that case. It’s about how hot and cold a relationship can be sometimes, even one you’ve been in awhile. Melodically, it calls upon a bluesy-rootsy schtick, including some cool little harmonica parts. It’s good when you’re listening to it, but it sticks with you about as long as a deep-fried novelty treat from the fair. You’re going to forget you even had it after about an hour.

Most Memorable Moment: if I’m being totally honest, the way I remember this song is that it’s nothing like Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time”. But wouldn’t that be fun? If it were a satirical, “other side of the coin” to that song? Yeah, too bad.

9. “Being a Woman” – I generally support songs about social issues, like feminism. It brings awareness, has a little fun, and expresses unabashedly the feelings of the writers. However, it’s a little on the nose sometimes and a little bit forced. Some aspects of it make me cringe, i.e. “if I complain, they’ll blame my feelings; but look at the view from my glass ceiling.” It means well and it’s all true, but it could have used a little more time in the oven.

Most Memorable Moment: “when we stand up and protest, we’re called an angry mob, while another lone gunman loads up his shot”. Hitting a little too close to home there, but true.

8. “Lackluster Lover” – Jazzy and whimsical, this song somehow makes mediocrity and apathy in a relationship seem upbeat and bubbly. The melody and performance are good, even great. I really like the description of it as “poking sly fun at a hapless Lothario”. It has grown on me significantly as I listen for the nuance in the composition though.

Most Memorable Moment: vocal performance by Price is elegant and emotive. She is truly such a beautiful and fantastic performer.

7. “Hush Money” – Jazzy and poppy, this song is even more entertaining if you try to think of it as a true story, where the band is being paid off to be quiet about some secret. In fact, that’s exactly what the song is positing, but I wonder what specific “flame” they saw being “fanned”? Fun, neat song using a concept you don’t see often, if ever, in mainstream music.

Most Memorable Moment: the vocalization improvs. Price killing it, as usual.

6. “Don’t You Know That I Know” – A cute novelty song about two well-matched lovers, this track is almost entirely made out of silly or fun pairings to compare to the couple, i.e. “we’re like baseball and hotdogs; you’re Ferris Bueller and I’m your day off”. I’m not really sure what the chorus is doing with the overly wordy phrasing, “don’t you know that I know that you know that I know that you want me”, but it’s a cute, fun song that I can’t help but love.

Most Memorable Moment: The lyrical pairings to describe the couple in love, of course. Some of my favorites are: “the E Street band and the Boss”, “you’re happy hour and I’m 5 o’clock”, and “you’re the Captain Kirk to my Spock”.

5. “Anymore” – I think of this as the other side of the coin to “Lackluster Lover”. A neo-soul trek through realizing that your relationship is coming to an end, that you say you’re doing fine, but you’re “not really sure, anymore”. If it’s the 5 stages of grief, this is depression. I like how the song approaches the “chorus”. There isn’t really one. When the word “anymore” comes up in the stanza, it is emphasized and repeated, with an embellishment in the music. It goes to the next verse though, without much fuss or force.

Most Memorable Moment: I could pull out nearly any lyric and put it here. The whole song builds really well on top of each phrase, each line. You need them all, in context, sequentially, for maximum impact. But this whole stanza below is one I will highlight here.

Cause it’s just another battle
Seems you’re still having fun
So I say that you have won
But I’m not keeping score anymore

4. “Making Do” – Here it is! The song that put the band on my radar. From it’s chill vibes, to the vocals, to the relevant lyrics about “making do with what you got”, it really just did it for me all around. Of course, in the pandemic era, the lyrics hit different. But the song was written pre-pandemic about climate change. Still, a lot of the lines could be applicable to dealing with any disaster or looming stress.

Most Memorable Moment: I struggled to come up with just one thing to put here. The whole vibe and chill approach is what made it so memorable for me.

3. “Hypotheticals” – Love this mellow, jazz/soul/indie rock fusion. I appreciate that the first word is “obviously”, which is the name of the album…Obviously. A song about new love, planning out your potential future. The excitement and uncertainty feels palpable, and my god, it’s so fun.

Most Memorable Moment: the chorus is absolutely infectious.

2. “Nobody’s Stopping You Now” – Absolutely fantastic song, in my professional and expert opinion (note: I am neither a professional nor an expert). This is damn near the best song on the album. I love the message of just letting go, being free, and allowing the real you to show through. I think every woman could probably relate to this. Price said she and bassist Bridget Kearny co-wrote this as a letter to her teenage self.

Most Memorable Moment: My favorite couplet: “don’t try to be a woman anymore; nobody’s taught you how. Skin your knees and throw punches in the air; nobody’s stopping you now”

1. “Same Old News” – This Marvin Gaye-esque love song is even more inspired and beautiful because it’s a duet. Originally written by keyboardist Akie Bermiss, Rachael Price heard the song and insisted on it being a duet with him. I am glad she did. This was an instant classic for me. Every second of it is a joy.

Most Memorable Moment: the give and take of verse 2, when Akie says, “I would change my name–” and Price interrupts and says “What would you change it to?”, and he responds, “to anything, for what it’s worth”. It’s just a fun little improv moment that feels real and sweet.

<a href=”http://<iframe src=”; width=”300″ height=”380″ frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true” allow=”encrypted-media”>Listen to Obviously on Spotify



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