Review Summary: These Young English Cardinals have turned homage into outright stalking.
On their first two releases, one could not help but feel a little sorry for young English quintet We Are The Ocean. As impressive as the post-hardcore outfit were at effectively balancing aggression and melody, there was a nagging comparison which they simply could not escape from... Their sound was very similar to that of the already well-established band Alexisonfire. Call it admiration, adulation or adoration, the observation was clear and unavoidable. So when the Canadian veterans threw the world a curve-ball in 2009, by incorporating an element of hard-rock into their punky post-hardcore sound, it seemed the perfect opportunity for We Are The Ocean to shake the tag. So what do the youngsters go and do on their second LP 'Go Now and Live'? You guessed it... Stalk their heroes and make a similar stylistic change.
As was the case on 'Old Crows/Young Cardinals', when Alexisonfire's screamer George Pettit refined his vocals into a divisively raspy delivery, the chief talking point on 'Go Now and Live' will be the lack of screaming from Dan Brown. Like his Canadian counterpart, Brown has no instrument to fall back on when a song would otherwise benefit from his vocal disappearance. Here, that is most evident on two cuts which lie dangerously close to ballad territory. Both 'Runaway' & 'Now and Then' appear destined for radio airplay, except that Brown delivers a verse on each that is as misplaced as a teetotaller at an AA meeting. Elsewhere, there is a Southern Rock vibe evident, with the grittier songs (opener 'Trouble Is Temporary...', 'Overtime Is a Crime' & 'Godspeed') containing dirty, distorted riffs and urgent drumming. These are very much Brown's chances to shine, with vocal effects limiting the potency of his partner in crime Liam Cromby.
And what of the aforementioned English version of Dallas Green? Surely, one would expect that an album leaning more towards mainstream alt-rock would suit Cromby's superlative clean vocals. Well, when the songwriting allows the dual vocal dynamic to shine, Brown's gruff rasp actually serves to highlight Liam's silky smooth melodies. Unfortunately, that does not happen anywhere near enough, with lead single 'What It Feels Like', the catchy ‘Trials and Tribulations’, uplifting closer 'Before I Die' and second single 'The Waiting Room' being the best exponents. The latter, especially, is a highlight, with the two often trading line for line until Cromby understandably takes over come time for a soaring chorus. Even these standouts will have their detractors however, with the rather simplistic song structures leading to less intricate guitar lines and more general lyrical themes. Contradictorily, as big a risk as 'Go Now and Live' is, it ends up feeling just a little too safe.
While many had issues with Alexisonfire's most recent LP, it succeeded because the seasoned campaigners were as cohesive, passionate and energetic as ever. This led to some genuine "wow" moments, that We Are The Ocean fail to consistently deliver here. 'Go Now and Live' is by no means a bad album, since it is a solidly composed, straight-ahead rock release with some satisfyingly driving rhythms. The experience may even assist the growth of this talented band, rather than hamper it. Too often though, the songwriting feels incomplete... Frequently relying on Cromby's melodic vocals for a winning hook. Elongated outros litter the album, which is disappointing considering its meager 33 minute duration. Then again, maybe we should not be so surprised, since this LP arrives a mere 15 months after its predecessor. Hopefully, We Are The Ocean take a little more time in locating their true identity next time around... They can start by realizing that they are Young English Cardinals, not Old Canadian Crows.
Recommended Tracks: The Waiting Room, What It Feels Like & Before I Die.
I can still respect them cw... For now. They're still young, but they wouldn't want to keep doing this.
I was waiting for you to arrive andcas. Expected you to lay into me tbh.
I don't care if Liam sounds identical to Dallas... It's a f'n great voice, no matter who is delivering it. But does this album really make use of his talent? Maybe it will require a solo album for that to happen.
Stokes, if you sound anything like Liam, then get to laying something on record mate.
I was expecting a higher rating from you andcas. You're not just following my lead to be cool, are you? ;-)
I was reading an interview with them where the resemblance was brought up & they answered it well, and part of that was saying they are an influence. Look, it's mostly Liam sounding like Dallas, but the change in style here adds the new Dan sounding like the new George too.
Hehe. "At times?" I'd say a little more than that. LOL.
Well said re: this album. I do think they will actually reel in a few more fans from this album, so it won't be a total disaster... But the important thing is how they use what they have learnt come their next album.
Now that I think of it, this would have worked better had it been a 6 track EP.
Yeah, that song on andcas' link is a great place to start for their earlier stuff Sanders. And if you can imagine that song without the screaming, that's basically what this album sounds like.
Thanks VC, I hope I have inspired a few people to check these guys out. And you know, you have a point re: this band. As much as I say I really like them, I have never rated anything of theirs over a 3.5. There has to be a reason for that, even though I can't put my finger on it. They're so close to taking that next step.
As for Dan being a tool/arsehole, I'm telling you, having a singer who can't play an instrument & sings less than 50% of the vocals is just a recipe for disaster. Grab a cowbell or something man.