Review Summary: "And happiness it does exist, but I don’t know that this is it"
Emotions can be a powerful force. Throughout our entire lives, emotions are what truly make us who we are; they shape our being by affecting our decisions, ultimately resulting in the combined virtues and vices that shape our character. In a similar fashion, emotions shape the creation of music. True musicians channel their emotions through their musical talent, resulting in the culmination of emotions (as passion) through lyrics, melody and rhythm that crafts a song or album.
On Oceana's previous full-length album, Birth.Eater, the subject matter of the lyrics (abortion) brought multiple emotions to the table - anger, despair, sadness, and a subdued sense of hope. The technicality of the music brought further passion to these emotions, creating an album that was filled with brutality, yet also beauty. However, what this album truly lacked was possibly the most important emotion of all - happiness. The ending of "Devil Walk, God Walk" was hopeful; yet there was no joy. It was a sort of repressed happiness.
With Clean Head, the band have decided to incorporate this new aesthetic into their music - along with a progression so extreme it will either alienate fans or give them reason to rejoice. Clean Head is different. It is sorrowful. It is marvelous, yet most of all it is happy. Songs such as "Wool God" and "Joy" (obviously) are examples of this newfound happiness, while "Blue" and "Barracuda Capital of the World" showcase mourning, sorrow, wonder, and occasionally a restrained sense of euphoria. Together these songs form a cohesive whole that possesses enough quality to be perfect - yet it's not quite there yet. Onto subjects other than emotions, here are some important things to point out about the EP:
The change from the metalcore-influenced post-hardcore of Birth.Eater to this new, As Cities Burn-style of indie rock is sudden, as there was no previous possibility of the band taking this new turn in genres.
The songs, excluding "Barracuda Capital of the World", all start the same way - too much like "At the Last" by Thrice, and while have improved songwriting from Birth.Eater, also have too many similarities for this new style of music.
The vocals, provided by Brennan Taulbee, have both improved and diminished since the last album. They have improved because he no longer relies on studio tricks to sing his melodies and for this EP are quite good; yet diminished because his range has gotten considerably smaller due to this new style. Taking this into account, however, the album's vocal lines are enjoyable, with highlights being the beginning of "Barracuda Capital of the World", and the endings of "Wool God" and "Joy".
The lyrics, since they are no longer concerned with abortion and orphanage, have become quite ambiguous, which is not to say they are bad. The true meanings of the songs, however, are hard to discern. "Blue" contains a large amount of these vague lyrics, with allusions to faith and confusion; "Joy" deals with happiness, as the title might imply; "Barracuda Capital of the World" contains the album's title lyric.
The music throughout the EP feels like a combination of new Thrice and As Cities Burn; despite taking a small step down technically from their previous album, all musicians do their job well enough to construct likable songs. The highlight of this new approach is "Barracuda Capital of the World", as it incorporates a bluesy, atmospheric intro with the indie rock on the rest of the EP.
Overall, Clean Head is a good listen for fans of the aforementioned bands, true fans of Oceana, and fans that are interested to see if they fall into either category. Here's hoping they can combine the style of Birth.Eater with this new style to create a truly interesting album.
Album is pretty awful if you ask me, I absolutely despise indie rock though so... yeah. Just seems like this band has progressively been losing their balls with each release, and this is basically the release that sees the band being completely neutered.
I loved the format of this review, pos'd. In other news, never heard this; should I check it out, Breadburner? (haha get it? it's a pun of your username AND another one of their songs?? get it? ha...ha...ha...)