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Oceansize - 'Self Preserved While Bodies Flow Up' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 26, 2010    
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Oceansize's best album so far.

In the past I’ve really wanted to like Oceansize, but apart from the promising debut album ‘Effloresce’ their next couple of releases left me frustrated that they never seemed to want to go in the heavier direction I thought worked best for them. With too many nods toward indie rock the Manchester quintet were trying to be all things to all men and sadly scattered their sound around so many different genres that the most anyone could get from them was a great two or three tracks. To be honest they’re still very diverse, but with this their fourth long player they’ve found a way of making their different influences work for them in the same way that, say, Muse or The Mars Volta do.

On first hearing though you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’ve finally thrown in their lot with the clever progressive metal community as some of the early tracks are probably the heaviest and most intense they’ve ever recorded. The angry ‘Part Cardiac’ has an angular doomy sound that takes a while to get your head around, the vocals of Mike Vennart are angst-ridden and the chord sequences are at first confusing before it all clicks, similarly the simply brilliant ‘Build Us A Rocket Then..’ continues those themes to the point where you begin to think they’ve done a whole album of this stuff. Obviously that would be too easy as, apart from the highly accessible ‘Superimposer’ that sits politely between those two slabs of amplified riffs from Steve Durose and Richard Ingram, you also get the lengthy and haunting ‘Oscar Acceptance Speech’ which consists of two distinct parts, the second of which could be an orchestral score to a melancholy film.

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For me the epic ‘Silent/Transparent’ is the album’s standout with the first part setting the scene for waves of guitar and emotion that pour out on the stirring climax. To be honest the rest is a little hit and miss with the jazz pretensions of ‘Ransoms’, the simple vocal duet of ‘A Penny’s Weight’ and the low-key sign off of ‘Pine’ and ‘Superimposter’ (as opposed to ‘Superimposer’) giving the album an uneven feel. Similarly you spend the whole of ‘It’s My Tail And I’ll Chase It If I Want To’ waiting for the sub-REM verse to explode into a big arrangement, which it does on occasion.

SPWTBFU is Oceansize’s best album so far (in my humble opinion) and the one that begins to fulfil their early potential. I don’t think it’s the masterpiece it’s being lauded as in some circles but it is a pretty big step in the right direction. The good bits are impossible to ignore.

Phil Ashcroft

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