Its hard not to view the latest melancholic masterstroke from Melbourne’s The Ocean Party in the tragic view of the recent loss of one of their members. Just over a week out from the album’s release the band lost member Zac Denton (also of Ciggie Witch, Pregnancy) to the sudden onset of a brain cyst. At six members deep, the band is stuffed with songwriters, but like the rest, Zac’s voice added to the band’s surprisingly complex resolve and gorgeous glimmer of hope in an overwhelming world. The Oddfellows’ Hall, was recorded in the titular building, a community meeting center in New South Wales, and the out of studio locale adds its own bit of character to an album that’s also a bit unconventional. The record merges styles seamlessly, slipping from country-flecked indie to pulsing new wave offspring while offering a bit of a buoy and ballast to listeners in need.
There aren’t any hard divisions between the genre hops and that in itself gives the album a welcome cohesiveness. When the drum patterns rise up, there are still a few melancholy slides that find their way into the mix and even the downbeat strummers still have an undeniable pop center. To their credit, despite Ocean Party’s deep bench of songwriters, the tone retains an even whiff of bittersweet bliss. While each member adds their own color – sometimes adopting the laconic lounge licks of Kurt Vile, sometimes picking at an updated vision of the bedroom dancing that inspired The Postal Service, and most often finding themselves tangled in a jangle n’ twang that’s all their own – they all seem to keep a collective spirit in-tact.
Its humble and human, warm and weary. There’s an everyman appeal to the album that’s endearing. It’s a fitting swansong for Denton, albeit one that comes far too soon. As the album examines the personal anxieties, quiet triumphs, and daily stumbles that each member endured and exemplified, it’s a little piece of the artists to hold onto – a balm for the listener and players alike.
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