ALBUM REVIEW: Flip Phone Fantasy (OCEAN GROVE)
ALBUM Flip Phone Fantasy // ARTIST Ocean Grove
Like a kid in a kaleidoscopic candy shop, a veritable feast of genres and nostalgia awaits on the hugely anticipated sophomore album Flip Phone Fantasy from Melbourne heavy mavericks Ocean Grove due out Friday March 13.
With the years increasing between their head-turning debut album The Rhapsody Tapes back in 2017, it was only a matter of time before Ocean Grove flipped out fans by finally confirming a release date for their second LP Flip Phone Fantasy for Friday March 13. And while the lead-up to this latest chapter for the Melbourne quartet has not been without its unique challenges (including significant lineup changes that saw bassist Twiggy Hunter come onboard with Dale Tanner stepping up as full-time frontman for the group) - there's a sense of shared growth and unabashed joy busting at the seams of Flip Phone Fantasy, partly stemming from the group's desire to still make music that they genuinely love while growing with the overall album process:
“The songs on the album have somewhat of a metaphorical undertone for the futuristic mirror image we hoped to embody by the end of the process...The album is a very intentional blue print for the changes we wanted to see in ourselves.” - Twiggy Hunter, Bassist
As with their previous full-length The Rhapsody Tales, Flip Phone Fantasy doesn't offer a journey in genre cohesion; rather, Ocean Grove gift a lesson in diversity packed full of nostalgic alternative antics that finds its consistency through its staggering composition and unbridled passion.
If the cover art didn't give it away, we're in for dollops of nostalgia as the familiar sound of a flip phone ringtone opens up the album, with SUPERSTAR going full nostalgic with a nu metal/rap rock jam that bears all the trimmings of an Ocean Grove adventure: huge soundscapes, catchy hooks and enough jaunt to bewitch a headbang from everyone in the near vicinity. But before you settle in with the subtle grooves too much - up next is NEO barrelling out like a (non-Miley) wrecking ball, spraying its high octane haze amid blistering distortion and thunderous beats. Gifting a ballistically bold and fiery affair early on in the album, NEO also finds bassist Twiggy Hunter swapping frontman duties with Dale Tanner as the group explore the despair and anger of wanting to belong in a world gone mad.
Living up to Dale Tanner's previous statement that Flip Phone Fantasy would mimic someone's mixtape from the flip phone era, SENSE AGAIN finds itself next up entrenched with dreamy melodics amid hulking rock moments, while the aptly named SUNNY grips at Brit rock vibes beneath distinct modern flavours as the Ocean Grove gents deviate heavily from their nu metal roots - and ultimately prove their flourishing knack for engaging yet controlled genre-blurring.
From here we travel between menacing, melodic blasts (THOUSAND GOLDEN PEOPLE), nostalgic electronica (GUYS FROM THE GORD) and simmering pop warmth (SHIMMER) , with each step forward shining an increasingly finessed spotlight on the many, many strings to the Ocean Grove writing bow, while continuously offering unwavering positivity.
But it ain't just all riffs and broad soundscapes on the Ocean Grove menu, with BABY COBRA swirling to life wrapped up in serene and sinewy bliss. It's a brief and beautiful moment of ambient reprieve from the group that oozes woozy, whispered vocals over a sparse, enchanting backdrop, and ultimately marks the biggest moment of juxtaposition with what's to come next - the utterly bombastic ASK FOR THE ANTHEM
If the accompanying music vid is anything to go by, ASK FOR THE ANTHEM is Ocean Grove having the absolute time of their life. From the thematic nods to early 2000s pop and alt rock to the bouncy bass lines, smooth vocals and criminal grooves ASK FOR THE ANTHEM is undeniably an increasingly maligned word - a banger. And while the shift in sonic trajectory here initially freaked the diehard heavy OG fans to near-death when it first released, it's an essential moment that highlights the band's overarching range and booming commercial competence (a fact that is exciting to see from any Aussie heavy band in the current musical landscape).
Slowly bringing Flip Phone Fantasy to a close is the brief hip-hop-tinged interlude SWAY, the thicc n' smooth nu metal gem JUNKIE$ and ultimately the placidly raw FREAKS that balances simplicity with sweeping moments that adequately showcases each and every band member in a stripped-back light. It's a soft finish, but one that somehow perfectly sums up the overall desire to pivot between genres while journeying the spectrum of human emotions.
Unsurprisingly, Ocean Grove have yet again harnessed their own whacky and wonderful world into a colourful sonic odyssey that blends earworms with ardent emotive pathways in a playful yet entirely measured fashion. For some, the lack of constant heavier moments will bring out the griping - but those complaints would only shed light on a lack of understanding about the place Ocean Grove hold in the musical arena. Flip Phone Fantasy furthers the vivid journey OG continue to pioneer in the musical world (while also showcasing the group's self-production finesse). And while it's been previously well-established that this is a band who unabashedly march to the beat of their own eclectic drum, their latest sonic baby powerfully furthers their refusal to stagnate while also wielding some of the most powerful weapons in the modern music world - a hearty dose of nostalgia and the ability to bash out genuinely enjoyable tunes. Motorola RAZRs out for Ocean Grove - Flip Phone Fantasy is a heck of a good time.
OCEAN GROVE'S BRAND NEW ALBUM FLIP PHONE FANTASY IS DUE OUT MARCH 13 VIA UNFD, WITH PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER