We Are The Ocean

ARK

Written by: TL on 12/04/2015 16:58:31

We Are The Ocean have had one erratic career so far. Lauded as England's own version of Alexisonfire on 2010's "Cutting Our Teeth", by then the scene for music with screaming was already imploding under its own saturation. The group tried to acclimatise with 2011's "Go Now And Live", but harsh vocalist Dan Brown was eventually let go in a move that came to look ironic when nothing from 2012's "Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow" made as good an impression as the vocal back and forth of the predecessors' leading single "Waiting Room". So if putting out three albums in as many years wasn't enough, the average performance of the band's new form should arguably figure as a good reason that the quartet has since then taken some time to regroup.

However, they return in about a month with "ARK", an album that, more than anything, sounds like they dived into and became infatuated with their daddies' record collection. It promises good things right off the bat, with the rousing and epic title track, which flexes symphonic muscles and drives your thoughts back to rock operas from the age of bands like Led Zeppelin and Steppenwolf. Overall though, the album is honestly as erratic as the band's career path, proven immediately as track two, "I Wanna Be", takes a nose dive into butt-rock territory. The straightforwardness is stupifying here, and the backing vocals so corny it grates on the ears.

Moving on though, songs like "Good For You" and "Shere Khan" borrow very liberally from Queens Of The Stone Age, while the signature riff of the catchy single "Do It Together" incidentally sounds near-identical to Danish retro-rockers Go Go Berlin and their "Gimme Your", which is unfortunate because the latter is a somewhat better song. In "Hope Your Well" you get both quirky grammar and the kind of over-dramatic American balladry that could have been in "Rock Of Ages", while "Letters To Michael" mellows things down with folksy acoustic finger playing, and while "Holy Fire" sounds unshakeably like something from an old U2 album. "Wild" is probably the one song that sounds the most like the band did on previous albums, coming off mildly enjoyable via its lyrics about letting go of pretenses and letting your feelings out.

The good news is that the separate collisions with influences from past golden ages of rock, mostly come out dressed in enough of the originals' personality traits to stand apart quite well, arguably making "ARK" the most eclectic We Are The Ocean album so far. Regrettably there's some bad news as well though. Firstly the album is simply too long, not because twelve tracks is too much, but because "There's Nothing Wrong", "I Wanna Be" and arguably also "The Midnight Law" are sub-par tracks that cast shades of poor taste over the remaining tracks. Secondly, it sounds like the band has opted to go with some old-school recording techniques as well, which is mainly audible in a recorded vocal performance from frontman Liam Cromby that sounds "organic" at best, a little off the mark at worst.

Lastly and most importantly though, it's a subject for discussion if We Are The Ocean even pull the retro rock project off convincingly. Descriptives like derivative or impersonated consistently linger in the back of the mind while the songs give you a tour of what the guys have found in the families' vinyl collections. "ARK" starts out well, and save for some obvious bumps it does offer a diverse and occasionally compelling retrospective, but for one thing it doesn't convince you that We Are The Ocean have merged their previous qualities with these new (old) ones and come out stronger, and for another it sounds a bit wannabe and neither here nor there, when you put it on before or after some of the bands that already carry the classic elements onwards with obvious charisma, such as the likes of The Parlor Mob, Rival Sons or Wolfmother.

Ultimately then, it's not for certain that We Are The Ocean can't reconsolidate themselves as a band by implementing retro qualities, but with "ARK" they haven't gotten it done in one swing. More work is needed, unless of course they have another wild change of heart before the next record.

7

Download: ARK, Holy Fire, Do It Together
For The Fans Of: Deaf Havana, The Parlor Mob, Rival Sons
Listen: facebook.com/wearetheocean

Release date 12.05.2015
Hassle Records

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