Dream Theater have been at the top of the game for such a long time …
Where most people see a hunk of marble, some see David hiding within. Where most people hear silence, some hear harmony and melody. Thought up out of nowhere, from nothing. Creating the exact opposite of what we confront in solitude. Paintings decorate space, music decorates time. Music is a union of imagination, time, and sound. Ocean Grove represent that union.
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Even when some overeducated blowhard insists that we’re lost in a fog of Retromania, turning the stomach of pop music if we ask for something novel.
Some of history’s greatest success stories are mashups of what have come before: Star Wars is just Flash Gordon serials mixed with The Hidden Fortress and a bit of World War II aerial combat. (If we want to break it down into its constituent parts, I mean.) What we call love is just a concentrated release of oxytocin in the brain. Doesn’t make it any less powerful when we gaze at our beloved doing something mundane like the washing up and in a flash, decide we want to spend the rest of our lives with them.
Cutting a nu-metal groove in SUPERSTAR feels like a tribute to the last age of true rock n’ roll excess; before the charm of opening a CD on release day went the way of cordless landlines and pagers. If I could totally request Carson Daly play this live, I fucking well would. A little bit of that spun-out surf-rock makes its way into a two-minute burst of youth nitro NEO; if you turn down the speakers half-way through, you’re officially old.
Ocean Grove are indeed aficionados of all things 90s; but not in that ‘Violent Soho ripping off Jebediah ripping off The Replacements’ way. Desperation burns through SENSE AGAIN, turning on the metal that Silverchair sorta-kinda flirted with way back when. SUNNY does what it says on the tin: bright beautiful gang choruses plucked right from a music video involving pretty girls and Hawaiian shirted dudes throwing a Malibu mansion pool party.
Flip Phone Fantasy is [a] union of imagination, time, and sound manifest. Go decorate some well earned moments with it. You’ll be glad you did.
It wouldn’t be remiss to say that Ocean Grove are the new kind of psychedelia; where bands like Vanilla Fudge covered the Beatles in half-time, Ocean Grove shoot Gen-X pop music—I’m talking nu-metal, grunge, rave, Madchester—full of adrenalin and Adderall, and cast it free to see where it lands. Christ, you hear a play on the god damned Amen break in trip-hop inspired GUYS FROM THE GORD, another hint of dramaturgy from Running Touch. THOUSAND GOLDEN PEOPLE could’ve been a Stone Roses cut, ringing out with trance-like harmonies and riffs unfurling anthemic melody in its own damn time. Frontman Dale Tanner takes on impish clowning around and heavy human drama with equal aplomb. Hooks, riffs, all: everything here has its place and nothing is compromised in the slightest.
Henley, Bassal, Hunter, and co. break out the acoustic and the atmospherics for BABY COBRA, a slight reprieve on an album travelling at warp speed. Yes ladies and gentlemen, we are indeed floating in space. The band shines a kaleidoscope of colour and light, grabbing our hands and letting us rise and climb aboard their gentle, all-embracing natural high.
Last track FREAKS is the culmination of the album. It’ll be the song that makes sure history will never forget the name Ocean Grove. I can envision it becoming a song people will remember where and when they first heard it; it’s destined to take on a life of its own. Sort of like a You’ll Never Walk Alone for this generation, acting as a response to Daniel Johns insisting he’s separate and outcast; this encourages the flip (phone) side to it: beginning with plucked guitar and Dale Tanner’s lamenting howl, he implores us, “But I’m no freak” – yeah, we’re all odd in our own way. We’re all different. Lashing out with a towering riff that’ll clobber you off your seat, FREAKS is that moment where the band really does break off a piece of itself and hands it to you. Oddworld never sounded so honest, vulnerable, and mesmerising.
Ocean Grove starved for this album, they bled for this album. Flip Phone Fantasy is that union of imagination, time, and sound manifest. Go decorate some well earned moments with it. You’ll be glad you did.
STANDOUT TRACKS: FREAKS, SUNNY, BABY COBRA
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Silverchair, Faith No More, Spiritualized