Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Oceansize - Frames
Methinks I'll also post a few reviews from the past of those albums which had that extra special moxy! First up is Frames by some Brits.
Corporations spend millions of dollars each year trying to come up with good names for products, but none of those overpaid specialists have come up with a name as fitting as Oceansize. Frames is the third album from this talented British quintet whose music is as expansive, beautiful and effortlessly changing as the ocean. Their music defies easy categorization, displaying at times the hooky power-pop meat of Splendor, and at others the shoegazer mist of My Bloody Valentine, the rough rhythms of Tool or the drifting psychedelia of early Pink Floyd.
Listening to Frames is like drifting in the middle of the ocean. There’s an orderly feel to the rise and fall of the waves, but there’s also chaos and a seemingly random movement to the fluctuations of each individual swell. One moment you’re floating serenely, awestruck by the beauty of the water and the wondrously massive sky above. But as you watch the sky it slowly darkens and the water gets choppy. Your once peaceful bobbing becomes a violent upheaval as the waves repeatedly lift and aggressively drop you. Still later they calm to a hypnotic tranquility.
The music packs a massive emotional wallop behind the meticulously crafted melodic hooks that will tug at you from the very first listen and eventually become addictive. True to their name, Oceansize write some pretty big songs encompassing some pretty big ideas. A lesser talent would turn it all into a convoluted mess, but these brave souls somehow massage their songs into a giant wow. Their scope is so broad and yet so universally appealing that it’s difficult not to fall under their spell. Do you like Nirvana and Foo Fighters? Check. Led Zeppelin and classic Black Sabbath? Got it. Wilco and Radiohead? It’s in there. King Crimson or even the Beatles? Got it covered. Nuanced art rock, power pop, intelligent metal, sophisticated space rock, even classical … it’s all there living in perfect harmony. I have a feeling that if Oceansize really wanted to pack jazz, hip-hop and country into their mix they would somehow find a way.
This past weekend I woke up in the middle of the night with an Oceansize song demanding to be played in my head. I need help. I’m the first to admit that when I really truly like a band, it’s probably doomed to commercial failure. The vast majority of people will find it too weird for their tastes. But I’ve been surprised at the response I get when I force, er, coax my friends to listen to Frames. The typical response has been, “Hey, this is pretty good!” I think they’re as surprised as I am.
The lucky Brits have had this album for two years. Why it took so long to cross the big pond and get an official U.S. release is beyond me, but it has definitely been worth the wait. It’s easily the best album I’ve heard in six months, possibly the best of 2009. Frames is the kind of album music geeks wait years to find. Don’t wait two years to find out why Oceansize have been called the most underrated band in Britain.