Review Summary: Different kinds of ambition: Oceansize get cohesive
Oceansize’s debut album, Effloresce
was something of a magic album for me; the variety of sounds and emotions displayed took me aback and the consistency of it simply blew me away; it didn’t take me long to realise that they were a band full of good ideas that knew exactly how to turn them into incredible songs. On Everyone Into Position
, it is clear that they are still in essence the same band that wrote Effloresce
, but have composed an album with a very different overall feel.
Opener "The Charm Offensive" provides an insight into exactly what has changed; it doesn’t explode in the way of "Catalyst", "Amputee", or the like, instead cruising along at its own pace with groove and swagger. Nothing sounds rushed or forced – it’s a rock jam that rises and falls as feels right, by virtue of shifting dynamics and a distorted approximation of a slow-time funk riff. Whereas Effloresce
succeeded through songs that built up to towering climaxes, Everyone Into Position
is more subtle and less full of obvious dynamic contrasts, featuring songs that boast a little more inner cohesion. The same can be said for the album as a whole, which is a lot less challenging to unpack than Effloresce
, which would jump from the metal of "You Wish" to the dark alternative of "One Day All this Could Be Yours" to the anthemic rock of "Amputee" without batting an eyelid. Here, the closest thing to an outlier is "A Homage to a Shame", easily the heaviest song, though this still manages to fit the tracklist without too much friction.
This cohesive writing does come at minor expense of the eclecticism that made Oceansize such a special band, but there is still plenty on offer in this department; the contrasts are just a little less stark than on Effloresce
. For instance, the soft, haunting Meredith
may sound nothing like the clamorous You Can’t Keep a Bad Man Down
, but both invoke the classic Oceansize feeling of being immersed and a little drained. This repeats itself across the album; in this sense the post-rock pseudointerval "Mine Host" is as apt a reflection of the whole as big-hitter rock of the opening trio.
The album highlights come thick and fast, whether in the aforementioned groove of "The Charm Offensive", "Heaven Alive"'s infectious rhythms, "Meredith"'s chilling refrain (Oh how I’d cut you to the bone
), or the whole of Music For a Nurse
, understandably one of the band's most hailed tracks and a successor of sorts to the monumental post-rock opus they laid down on "Women Who Love Men Who Love Drugs." Vennart's lyricism here is a notch above that track's delirious mumurations; And if I display just a fraction of the soul you showed in this world/then I know I’ll see you again
in particular one of the finer 'size lines. However, the album's finest moment comes in the form of the closer Ornament/The Last Wrongs
. This track disregards the rest of the album's tendencies insofar as it plays off exaggerated dynamics and benefits from segmented songwriting, kicking off with a five minute instrumental intro that punctuates a soothing motif with abrupt distorted chords. The track's second phase straightens out somewhat and moves onto the album's vocal highlight; Vennart delivers a passionate and uplifting performance and finds himself backed by choice harmonies, rounding the album off in style.
With Everyone Into Position
Oceansize aimed for a more accessible album with potential radio hits, and whilst they failed to hit the big time commercially, the experience of attempting more refined songwriting was clearly a productive one for them. Elements of this ethic would transfer into their more expansive prog masterpiece Frames
, but as far as prog dipping its toes into the world of radio goes, you could certainly do far worse than this record.