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The Ocean Party Lay Back and Let the Songs Do the Talking on “Restless”

– by Louis Humberstone

The Ocean Party’s sixth full-length release Restless is an Indie gem mixing jangling guitars, uplifting keys, and sharp lyrics into their laid back and lush sound.

The band, consisting of brothers Zac and Lachlan Denton, Snowy Nasdaq, Curtis Wakeling, Jordan Thompson and Mark “Crowman” Rogers continue their prolific output following last year’s Light Weight. The six-piece demonstrate their collaborative and democratic creative process with each of the band members contributing lyrics and vocals.

The stand out track is definitely first single “Back Bar”, a fun and melodic earworm which pushes forward the brand of pop which defines The Ocean Party. The song makes clever use of dynamics between the verse and the chorus, and makes for a memorable start to Restless. Lyrics such as “I wish I knew when to throw the towel/ Is this all a test?” give the track an underlying angst which contrasts cleverly against the lighter weight of the music. The synths and keys manage to hide in the background, but do enough to fill “Back Bar” out to an expansive and lush single which sets up the rest of the album.

“Reach” is a track which really gets into The Ocean Party sound. A slower song, the piano swells under the vocals whilst the band plays with melody and harmony. Throughout, there is a shift in dynamics, which allows the vocals to be uplifting despite their deadpan delivery. The line “I know everything changes/ you think it wouldn’t” points to a lyrical maturity in within the band, as specific situations become larger comments on life and relationships.

Throughout the album, we are treated to DIY recording that sounds intimate but not unprofessional. The overall vibe of the album is rustic, breathable, and spacious. Sounds of various eras come and go, but Restless does not sound dated. At its core is The Ocean Party’s own unique sound, developed over six albums. Lyrically, a sense of isolation and melancholy persists that is evocative of other Australian independent artists seeking direction in the distanced and at times sparse landscape journeyed whilst touring.

“Second Guess”, a tense, uptight song, begins a three track streak of thoughtful alternative music which lasts until the end of the album. A sleazy bass slinks around sparkling guitars and a pounding drumbeat, moving around a cry of, “Why didn’t I message you on your birthday?” The lazy delivery allows the song to slide along, sounding biting and detached, complementing the tense feel of the song.

Other key tracks include “Locked Up”, which begins with a minor key piano riff, and laments, “Nothing more to do than what you do for a living” with a sense of melancholy and disinterest, and “Better Off”, with its rising synths and thick jangly guitars reminiscent of bands like The Cure and The Smiths.

The Ocean Party will hit the road in late September, and carry on through until early November, bringing their jangly guitar-Pop across the country to showcase the newest tunes in their constantly growing arsenal.

With the release of Restless, the six-piece merge together a DIY ethic with a deep appreciation for the style of music they make to present an aural excursion into the constantly developing sound of The Ocean Party.

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