It’s here! After weeks of speculation and days of teasing, Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst have unveiled Better Oblivion Community Center, their new super-duo team-up. Their self-titled debut album is already out, and Bridgers and Oberst debuted the new project in grand fashion last night, just as the album was hitting streaming services. Together, they played the album track “Dylan Thomas” on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, and they presented it as one of the silliest, most self-conscious late-night performances in recent memory.
Better Oblivion Community Center has a concept. All of the album’s packaging is about a mysterious and satirical wellness retreat. And with last night’s performance, Bridgers and Oberst did everything they could to make a standard late-night set look like an old, faded infomercial: VHS effects on the camera, cheesy picture-in-picture editing, a quick and delightful cutaway that showed Bridgers and Oberst in the audience while Bridgers and Oberst were onstage performing. Onscreen graphic flashed the different services available at the Better Oblivion Community Center, all of which were pretty funny: “assisted self-care,” “chosen family therapy,” “dry ice meditation,” “free human empathy screening,” “sacred crystal implanting and removing.” And there’s also a phone number to call: (785) 433-5534. (If you call it, you get a muffled recording about all the good things you can do for yourself at the Center.)
Even beyond the extra silliness, there’s a lot going on in the performance. For instance: The backing band! Members include Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and Autolux/Jack White drummer Carla Azar. (I can’t be the only one who noticed that everyone in the band is hot.) Also: Phoebe Bridgers has purple hair now!
Hopefully, none of this stuff will obscure the fact that this is a fucking great performance of a fucking great song. Good job, everybody! Check it out below.
Better Oblivion Community Center is out now on Dead Oceans.