When looking at the body of work Oceansize have dealt out throughout the years, it's hard to pick a weak spot in their catalogue. Their experiments through the fields of progressive, minimalist and rather beautiful rock have always wielded wildly different results, making the sound a difficult one to grasp fully, even after a dozen or so listens. Oceansize don't adhere to a strict formula (or any obvious formula for that matter) and while that might make it seem that they spend a fair share of time flying off the handlebars, their songs are at least unique and varied enough to warrant reception. This works in both ways, however: on one side of the spectrum it's refreshing to hear such non-comformity, such originality and vision. And yet on the other side, it keeps Oceansize from reaching the tip of the mountain; such variation can make things difficult to obtain a sense of personal connection with any of their music and sometimes things appear to be unmemorable because there's no feeling of relatability.
Now Oceansize could have continued on this similar path with the release of Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up
. Instead they release an album devoid of confusion, an album that reaches the ultimate heights that this band's purpose can acheive. They cut off the fluff of past presentations and make one of the most straightforward and hard-hitting albums of their career. Not hard-hitting in the sense of heavy; rather, it's hard-hitting because they get straight to the point and Oceansize's music is beautiful and passionate enough to cut right to the center of the listener. And with Self Preserved...
they do just that; "Build Us A Rocket Then..." is a poly-rhythmic blast that wavers on losing control yet keeps you pulled in the entire time through its swaying vocals and wonderful tight punches. The album is constructed wonderfully; for every segment that is seemingly a call to the band's past, there's a counter-part keeping things ever so fresh and innovative.
The album also does a great job of slowing things down and letting Oceansize's great atmospheric feel for composition truly shine. "Oscar Acceptance Speech" and "Ransoms" are a fabulous middle point in the album with vocalist Mike Vennart's back to back of incredibly passionate croons over the piano led distortion of "Oscar..." and "Ransoms" slow-burning beautiful guitar lead. Both tracks brooden the entire scope of Self Preserved...
and while some may think it's a prime example of a lull, I believe it to be the pinnacle and crucial point of the album. "Ransoms" is remarkably gorgeous with bubbling ambience, layered lyrics of the search for a dead woman, and an all around haunting mood of a moonlit surf in the ocean. It's Oceansize at their finest really and sends the album off to the 2nd half in style.
Whatever you think you might know about this band's bag of tricks, throw it out the window and try Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up
for yourself. Oceansize have constructed a compelling album, soothing yet powerful, and all the more brilliant thanks to a more focused approach to their varied sound. They've trimmed the excess and left us with bare-boned Oceansize, a band with nothing to lose and everything to offer. 4.4/5