ALBUM REVIEW: Up In The Air Forever (OCEAN GROVE)
ALBUM Up In The Air Forever // ARTIST Ocean Grove
Positivity, shoes and irresistible sonic quirk shape the beating heart of the brand new album Up In The Air Forever from loveable Oddworld zealots Ocean Grove. A sharply executed gem full of warmth, wonder and genre-defying whimsy, this third full-length perfectly capitalises on the nostalgic and heavier tendencies of the band's past while firmly placing sights on an irresistible and intergalactic future. Lace up your sneakers and get ready for take off!
Bringing the "Oddworld" spice into the world since the early 2010s, Melbourne genre chameleons Ocean Grove have spent over a decade wearing many sonic hats, socks and, particularly of late, shoes as they have publicly displayed their creative open-minded wiles, positivity and increasingly polished wares. A collective brought together by a love for all things alternative and unabashedly authentic, the group have emerged from past incarnations as a quartet barreling down a heady cocktail of nu-metal-meets-pop-meets-rock in a neon-soaked wonderland into a trio of assured artists easily able to flit between early leanings and the new; case in point, OG's impending third studio album Up In The Air Forever, which will officially unveil this Friday April 22 via UNFD.
Having come from releasing their sophomore album Flip Phone Fantasy just as the COVID-19 pandemic significantly took hold in Australia to embracing change in every facet in and around the band, Up In The Air Forever may appear affable and playful on its exterior, but what it also significantly showcases alongside its Garbage Pail Kids artwork aesthetics and glossy glow throughout ten tracks is a firm grasp on the group's undeniable strengths: brisk melodics, shimmering warmth and genuine positivity. Heavy fans may initially baulk at the trio's deviation from their more chaotic previous pastures, but Up In The Air is a true aural feast, and one that claws at the tethers of societal norms while billowing you with airy bliss.
Opening with swaggering ease on Up In The Air is FLAVA; an anti-anthem for the outliers that brandishes creamy density with glossy pop beneath grunged-up hues, as Ocean Grove firmly set the scene for what's to come. And following in hot pursuit, the bouncy groove fest that is SEX DOPE GOLD fuses crunchy walls of sounds with sharp guitars and an insatiable beat that simultaneously bleeds pop and jumpin' rock as the OG gents query materialism in their potent lyricism.
Without skipping a beat, Up In The Air Forever sharpens its claws and clutches at some buzzing punk, crafting an opulent and menacing earworm via CALI SUN that challenges the notions of excess and the journey to self-realisation, blasting overarching heat as bright as the titular Californian sun before BUSTIN ups the jaunt and serves up a song impossible not to sing along to. With sharp snares and sweltering flair, BUSTIN also doles out the empowerment in spades with snappy polish and languid vocals that take you straight back to the high school house party vibes - but with a fresh and ever-so-fiery twist.
And still on the sonicnostalgic train comes the emphatic SILVER LINING; an affable stomper complete with "na-na-na's" and late 90s/early 2000s alt rock stylings firmly pulsing through its veins, while the short and sweet blaster HMU pairs full-blown This Is How We Do It à la Montell Jordan vibes with hints of earlier Ocean Grove bounce, before the boys go modern Nirvana, complete with gang vocals, gleeful frustration and an exquisite pairing with purveors of party bangers Dune Rats on the pulsing gem BORED.
NOISE and SILENCE start to bring proceedings to a close on Up In The Air Forever with audacious personality, including some significant early OG sonic throwbacks on the latter, before ultimately leading into the luscious closing and titular track. A swooning, glowing note to close out on, Up In The Air Forever is perhaps the largest divergence from earlier Ocean Grove tropes, but it's one truly beautiful to behold as the trio interlace sweeping harmonies, lavish ambience and stunning calm that robustly mimics floating in mid air as we drift off into the rippling abyss.
Album number three for Ocean Grove undeniably broadens the notions of the group's established Oddworld creative output, but refreshingly without sacrificing the stylistic eccentricities that so heavily endeared the group to the masses time and time again in the past. Once again, Dale Tanner takes on frontman duties after swapping from bass back in 2019, alongside the virtuosic Twiggy Hunter and Sam Bassal rounding out a matured and truly engrossing release from yet another enticing Aussie band. With Hunter also taking on vocal duties and Bassal playing practically every instrument in sight on the album, nothing is lacking whatsoever from the reduction of the OG sphere to a trio on Up In The Air Forever - the jaunt's still here, the Oddworld hues are ravishing, but there's actually more to love with less physical members via the group's razor-sharp thematic and creative focus.
Declaring "the power is in The Shoe", referencing the album's colourful artwork as well as OG's manifesto to invite listeners to transport themselves into a world where gravity does not apply, Up In The Air Forever is a glistening foray into seeking joy and weightless creative exploration, with oscillating moments of throwback grunge, alt rock, pop and enigmatic modernity that form a broader picture as a whole, and signal Ocean Grove as more than flashy gimmickry or a temporary flavour of the month; there's a transformative magic to everything Ocean Grove touch, and this latest album is a blast of fresh and ingrained dexterity that will coat you in its zeal, warmth and momentum.
OCEAN GROVE'S BRAND NEW ALBUM UP IN THE AIR FOREVER IS OUT THIS FRIDAY APRIL 22 VIA UNFD. FOR MORE INFO, HEAD HERE.
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BY TIANA SPETER