by FlawedPerfection EMERITUS
September 30th, 2007 | 326 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Oceansize remain as off-kilter and complex as ever while welcoming new sounds into their repetoire.

If Oceansize have one thing to brag about, it is their awareness of their music and images. Following the release of their sophomore album, Everyone Into Position, they admitted to trying a more mainstream, accessible sound and sacrificing their creatiivty because of it. While it worked to get them more popularity (their music found its way onto the OC), they entered the recording of Frames with a different mindset. With a new member, Steve Hodson, and a vow to push their sound further, Oceansize present Frames, a certain step in a new direction for the band.

Where Effloresce took the band’s heavier, progressive influences and mixed in post rock and softer rock, Frames completely inverts that formula. The heavy, bombastic riffs from songs like “You Wish” and “Massive Bereavement” are almost completely gone on this album, and instead provide final climaxes for the album’s lengthy compositions, all pushing beyond five minutes. With bonus track “Voorhees”, the album goes past an hour, almost as long as their debut album in much less tracks. Regardless of the song lengths, the album feels much more cohesive than both its predecessors because they present fewer ideas on this album, albeit those ideas are some of their most complex and intricate yet. Again proving their consistent awareness, singer Mike Vennart noted after the completion of the album that it would take listeners more than a few listens to even figure out what they are even playing. For music theory nerds, this complexity makes for one of the most engaging listens of the year. Of course, the consistent complexity, especially in the band’s infamous odd time signatures, can also wear on an unprepared listener.

“Commemorative … T-Shirt” immediately shows the many changes in the band’s songwriting techniques. It builds upon a repetitive yet off-kilter piano progression, which in itself demonstrates two ideas new to the band: first, the use of keyboard instead of guitar to build main motifs, and second, the use of repetition to provide memorable melodies. Before, they constantly changed ideas and it became hard to remember many of the melodies from their songs. As the song progresses, that melody always remains somewhere, almost like a modern fugue. Other changes, however, are not as welcome. Vennart’s vocals undergo major surgery throughout the album, as he plays with vocal effects for most of the songs. “Sleeping Dogs and Dead Lions” shows how these effects actually detract from the effect of the song. Where musically the song reaches a climax, his vocals get quieter. Demonstrated on previous albums, Vennart possesses an explosiveness that really adds to the band’s heavier moments, but his screaming on this song sounds incredibly weak and laughable at best. Overall, his vocals take a backseat to the instrumental sections of the songs, and his voice only adds in just when the instrumental melodies start to get repetitive. “The Frame” perfectly symbolizes his role on the album with the album’s punchline, “I am not the picture now; I’m the frame.”

With the exaggerated prevalence of instrumental sections, Oceansize welcomed new ensembles into their sound. “Savant” begins with a synth brass choir very reminiscent of the end of DJ Shadow’s “Stem/Long Stem.” As it continues, Vennart’s vocal effects actually work in the subdued atmosphere; he sounds almost underwater. The song’s final climax presents another new ensemble, a string choir. They blend in with the band for a good bit of the song until they take the song through a baroque-inspired outro. They remain in the mix through some of “Only Twin”, easily the band’s most complex work to date. Once again, a repetitive melody starts out the song, but suddenly, a drum beat comes in with a completely different time signature. While the band always played with complex mixed meter, they never tried the arrhythmic style of “Only Twin.” Growing with the aforementioned strings and an oddly produced choir backing Vennart’s vocals, it climaxes into a slower tempo that gives off the effect of half time. The song embraces the new Oceansize while still showing off their hard rock roots. Still, it shows off the album’s other main flaw, the production. At many of the song’s climaxes, the production mixes everything so loud that it distorts the overall sound.

In terms of composition and coherence, Frames is the band’s best effort. The production, whether on Vennart’s vocals or the overall sound, really brings the album down. While some moments sound perfectly fine, the volume other times gets ahead of itself and leaves nowhere to go at each song’s loudest points. Still, Oceansize make an engaging listen that combines the band’s affinity for mixed meter with newfound memorable melodies. With the addition of choirs, strings, and all kinds of synth sounds, Frames has variety as well. From the typical Oceansize rock of “Unfamiliar” to the much more atmospheric, watery “Savant”, they prove that they can extend their influences to many different sounds. Hopefully, they can once again admit to their mistakes and continue down their musical path in new directions.

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user ratings (754)
other reviews of this album
iswimfast (5)
"Where others float..."...

Nick Mongiardo (4)
Despite some inconsistent vocals, Frames is an impressive combination of progressive rock and post r...

UnnamedOcean (5)
After listening to this album for ages, I can safely say these songs will not leave my head. Oceansi...

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 1st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I wrote most of this in the back of a car while the car was maneuvering through the middle of NYC, so there might be some awkward spots I didn't catch.

edit: yeah John I think while driving away from accessibility it might be their most accessible album yet.This Message Edited On 09.30.07

October 1st 2007


Album Rating: 4.0


October 1st 2007


I completely forgot about this release actually. I dig Effloresce, so I'll probably get this.

October 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

I need to get this album now-ish.

October 4th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I had no idea they had a new album out. Good review! I will most likely be checking this out. Their last album was a step down. Good to hear they are back on track.

October 10th 2007


I am listening to it now. Decent stuff.

December 30th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

This sounds very intriguing. I'm always up for some prog.

January 28th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

I think this album gives an incite into things to come. They aren't releasing singles anymore and it does show whilst listening to Frames. I thought it was more a body of music rather than a collection of songs and works well as an album. Personally I can't sing their praises enough, and I thought the previous albums, Effloresce in particular are near perfection. I saw them performing some of this album live back in October, and I have to say, the new songs don't work as well live... I recommend this album though, but to new listeners, I would have to say check out their previous releases first.

February 12th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

I believe this is Oceansize at their creative peak. I won't bet against them releasing another brilliant album after this one. Regardless of what happens in the future, I am glad they released a practically perfect album in "Frames".

March 16th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

I FINALLY found this. and WOW. it's incredible.

May 18th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

This album makes every car journey 4000x more epic than it should be.

September 10th 2008


ooo sounds goood. im gonna give em a listen ;P

December 20th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I recently found this band and like Effloresce a lot. Going to get this for X-mas. Looking forward to it.

March 9th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

I can't decide which album is my favorite from them after Frames...ugh

March 26th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

4 and growing I think. I just can't stop listening, my hand just keeps getting drawn to this disc. Powerful, emotional and just beautiful.

March 30th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Epic! I think this is oceansize at their peak too...

June 12th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

just found out about this.. f***ing love it

July 7th 2009


End of album is too slow, not interesting enough to maintain the near-perfect quality of first half.

September 25th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

I can't seem to choose between this and Effloresce. Both are excellent.

September 25th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

oh damn i was just about to comment on this, the prog list reminded me about it

this rules so hard.

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