Riddled with synth symphonies, layers of subtle bass and electronic tones, The Ocean Party have struck a memorable chord with the release of Restless. Still dancing on the edge of lo-fi, their new album has taken a turn from the twiddly garage tunes that they were known for eighteen months ago. With a sound reminiscent of Death Cab For Cutie, the addition of joyous piano/keyboard melodies accompanies the gentle vocals for a more developed, relaxing sound.
The first track ‘Restless’ sets the right mood, while ‘Hunters’ employs a deeper and more serious tone. ‘Back Bar’ is ever-so-slightly more upbeat, but ‘Decent Living’ is an excellent track that showcases brass-like harmonies and faint vocals, complete with a captivating instrumental that surprises us a little bit.
Delving into a more dark disco theme, ‘Teachers’ explores the depression and stress around studying and education. The word “die” is repeated periodically throughout, and the line “the structure of existence is more like a movie” draws the track to a vacuous end.
The mix of deep and dark tracks to this point now bring us to the latter half of the album, which begins with ‘Better Off’, a country-inspired track. With vocals more prominent, and a ballad like feel, it’s easy to get into the groove of what The Ocean Party is all about. It’s not surprising that the tracks are all around three minutes long and have a relatively short length, but the album begins to feel like it’s over too quick.
The walking bass riff in ‘Pressure’ does indeed give the sense of pressure, with lyrics to support: “Where do you think I’m going? I can feel you cracking”. The piano solo is juxtaposed with the bass, and teamed with the vacant, echo-like vocals, a sound much like that of The Whitlams begins to form. A key element of many of the songs on Restless are the endings, of which almost none employ a fade-out technique. The movement from track to track is extremely swift.
The sweet romantic vocals in ‘Reach’ personally bring me back to an old Brisbane band called Montpelier, who were stars of some very emotional ballads, although ‘Reach’ unfortunately does not – well, reach – its full potential because of a rather abrupt finish. As the bass-ridden ‘Second Guess’ begins, we can almost notice a clever pattern on Restless, with tracks seemingly alternating between soft and upbeat sounds.
Should order of tracks matter on an album? It depends. But I cannot deny that The Ocean Party’s music always makes a terrific mixtape for relaxing driving music. Shuffle, rinse, repeat – you will always experience the full breadth that The Ocean Party has to offer, regardless of what order you listen to their songs in. Though anyone would be inclined to argue that it is important, the versatility of The Ocean Party’s music almost makes the listening experience magical.
The Ocean Party’s sound has well matured not just lyrically, but vocally. Restless is far from restless, but its fleeting nature is a facade that only seeks for you to have a listen another time.