Review Summary: Finally, time for something not-so-completely different.
Constantly (and usually haphazardly) slapped with the "prog" label, Manchester 5-piece Oceansize have made reinventing themselves habit over the past decade. 2003's Effloresce
, a masterpiece in its own right, bled the post-rock popular for its time, yet tempered the sound to befit their grunge core. This synthesis proved to be a tall order to live up to. Instead of expanding the sonic offering of their debut, they proceeded to release two completely different records; Everyone Into Position
was a somewhat successful foray into pop, whereas Frames
was a polar opposite scatterbrained affair.
Preceded by typical any-band promises of better/faster/stronger, it's actually refreshing that Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up
doesn't try to reinvent the wheel yet again. If anything, it iterates 2010's take on ridiculous album titles while quite-possibly being the first logical Oceansize follow-up ever. Comparatively, Self Preserved
is a more condensed and focused extension of Frames
. Opener "Part Cardiac" offers a dissonant and chaotic take on sludge, while bringing atmosphere center-stage and avoiding heavy for sake of heavy gimmickry. This kicks off an epic string of tracks with space-rock anthem "Superimposer", the poly-rhythmic destruction of "Build Us a Rocket Then...", and the poppy atmospherics of "Oscar Acceptance Speech" - a 4-track sequence worth the price of the record alone.
Chronologically, the major problem with Self Preserved
becomes apparent soon thereafter; poor pacing brings to head a mid-album doldrums. "Ransoms", "A Penny's Weight", and "Silent/transparent" may individually stand well on their own, but coupled with the coma-inducing outro of "Oscar Acceptance Speech", a listener will be hard-pressed to maintain focus/consciousness through this mid-section. It truly is unfortunate, as a simple reorganization here could do wonders for pacing and be less off-putting to those still rocking out to the opening trio. "It's My Tail" manages to make up for this lull with another explosive space-rock offering before yielding to a pair of worthless outro compositions.
Regardless, Oceansize show some true maturity in their fourth outing. Forgoing the delusions of faux-artistry and grandeur from their previous two outings, Self Preserved
brings a sense of continuity to their discography that had never existed previously. No doubt, Oceansize's rabid fan-base will lap this up, while new listeners alike will find it enjoyable.