The Ocean Party’s Light Weight is a swell of flexible indie rock

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Five albums in three years. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but The Ocean Party have managed to pull it off. Their latest release Light Weight is a fully-formed album, dripping with great tracks and sweet melodies — a super solid pop-rock recording. It might take a couple of listens to get into the spirit of things, but once it hits you, it will hit you good.

The Ocean Party guesswork

Five albums in and The Ocean Party are showing down of slowing down. With wave after wave of versatile indie rock, Light Weight is an album built for Summer.

Title track Light Weight is a great indie tune, melodic and well-structured. The band’s lyrical strength is showcased here: “We caught a taxi back and I walked home from yours / You said I’ll see you soon / I said I wasn’t sure.” Seems simple, works a treat. Injected with a sense of humour (“White coats /over the counter turns out to be the butcher / Skinless or without the bone?”), it’s an amazingly affecting track, and will sit with you for days.

One of the things that makes this album really interesting is the number of different vocalists that are utilised without losing its sense of being a consistent and unified whole. In one fell swoop it goes from the droll and sweetly-sung Light Weight to the more funk-based, less melodic Phone Sex with an entirely new vocalist, while still managing to sound like the same album by the same band. Guess Work is a killer track and a slow burner. It starts off slowly enough with the same laid back vibe evident on the rest of the album. However, it builds emotion throughout the course of the song, culminating in the powerful final chorus of “I want to exist outside it all / I want to watch everything burn.

While it sounds like an anarchist rallying cry, the underlying poppiness of the tune gives it an unexpected twist — and arguably gives the sentiment a bit more grunt than if coming from the mouth of a band known for making statements like this. Things start slowing down towards the middle, with Greedy, which is not quite as interesting or engaging as the preceding tracks.

They pick things up again with Dirty Money — it isn’t the strongest song, but its lyrics about a flailing relationship will resonate with anyone who has been in an unsuccessful partnership: “The stale smell / in the air / that follows me around all day / You don’t know what I’m good for / but most of the time / either do I.” It leaves you feeling half heart broken, half wishing the instrumentals were of as high as standard as the vocals. Next track, Anything, is in the same vein — a decent song, just not in the same league as the first four tunes.

Thankfully, it’s all up from there. Aircon starts off with upbeat sax and the same grasps-you-from-the-first-note power evident on the first few songs on the album. Easily the most danceable tune on the album, the instruments twist and turn through each other, and the saxophone makes regular re-appearances, adding a bit of joy. The remainder of the album really just adds to the excellence of its beginning. Real Life and Heat Wave are particularly notable, finalising this oeuvre.

On the whole, The Ocean Party have created an incredibly strong fifth album. It’s their first produced in an actual studio, and this shines through in both its production values and each carefully chosen element. Perfect summer listening.

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