Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer
I know I am about to write an album review, which naturally involves words. But as a writer who loves her words as much as the air that I breathe, I am currently a little lost for them. Ocean Grove’s newest musical offering is just that fucking good. But I suppose I had better find some for this review or it will be pretty dull, which is not a word I would use at all when writing about ‘Flip Phone Fantasy’.
Now, I am going to fess up here. I have seen Ocean Grove come up on my radar several times over the years. I have listened to and appreciated them but, have I given them the attention they truly deserve? The shameful answer is no. And hey guys, if you’re reading this, I am deeply sorry. It was my loss, entirely. But I’ve got you now and my gosh, am I happy I have! New super fan right here and I am not even ashamed to say it as corny as it may sound. Excuse me a minute while I go purchase some merch…
‘Flip Phone Fantasy’ was released on Friday the 13th of March 2020 via UNFD on CD, LP and digitally and comes as their second studio album release after 2017’s ‘The Rhapsody Tapes’. The band had released several singles from ‘Flip Phone Fantasy’ before it’s official release on Friday including; Junkie$, Ask For The Anthem, Sunny, NEO and Thousand Golden People; all of them giving fans and listeners a glaringly glorious glimmer of what was to come from the full album. Though in all honesty I still felt ill prepared for the onslaught of pure musical bliss that was unleashed upon me during my first listen through of ‘Flip Phone Fantasy’.
The long list of genres, influences and sounds I hear on this album is huge. Like, actually HUGE. Track one, Superstar, hits me with a NIN sounding trip or maybe Marilyn Manson or maybe both. Thing is, I mean no offense by saying this album sounds like so many other bands or genres, I mean it as a complete and sincere compliment. It’s like Ocean Grove took every band I love and put them all in a massive fucking blender and poured it out into a modern mason jar smoothie and served it up fresh for the tasting. Or hearing. Whatever. It’s just fucking delicious. And it’s got me licking my lips for more.
Neo hits me like a steam train with its fast paced drilling, sounding a little like some early Faith No More. It’s one of those songs that makes your heart beat faster even if you’re sitting still. Sense Again takes me somewhere else again, but does not deliver any ‘sense again’ so to speak, it just continues on with my feeling of elation when listening to this album. In this track I hear Silverchair influences. I am taken back to my teen years of sitting in my room in a haze of smoke cranking the ‘Chair and reading my letters from The Llama Appreciation Society. Yep, that was a thing. Die hard Silverchair fans will get me. Is there an Ocean Grove appreciation society? Because if so, sign me up!
Sunny. Just far out. The beginning of this track gives me shivers. Where has this album been all my life? This is like Oasis meets Supergrass meets Good Charlotte and somehow had a baby called Ocean Grove. There is something about this track that makes me feel super positive and able to take on whatever the day brings, which in light of present happenings, is so truly needed and appreciated. Honestly not even sure if this song is meant to be positive? But it takes me there. And that’s the thing about music right? Everyone takes their own from it.
Thousand Golden People – Linkin Park influence for sure. The sound is huge on this track. Makes me itch to see Ocean Grove live on stage. I would imagine this song would be next level in a live setting. Again, as with a lot of tracks (possibly all?) on this album there seems to be a driving force behind this song. Like the band are so driven with their music that it comes through in each song.
Guys From The Gord – The Prodigy blended with Twenty One Pilots. This song is what I would call ‘dirty cool’. There is something about it that just screams dirty but super cool at the same time. This one is best listened to through earphones; to just completely immerse yourself in the track. Have I mentioned yet how much I love Ocean Grove’s lyrics throughout this album?
“Kick rocks, new bodies shape the skyline
Half cut, ink swells at the neckline
Tempting forms burning holes in the timeline
I’ve seen this printed in gloss
With paranoia we’re locked in the bathroom stalls
And all I need for this lifetime
Is two heartbeats and a baseline”
Shimmer is a softer approach. The clean vocals are crystal clear. There’s an indie pop feel to this track. Baby Cobra is even softer again, this is like a delicate embrace that caresses you ever so softly before you cop the full force groove of the next track, Ask For The Anthem which reminds me of an Osaka Punch song from the get go. This one is an earworm, guaranteed to get stuck in your head – so that your brain is literally asking for the anthem until you listen to it again. Aptly named!
Sway gives me a 90’s beat and sound, like something from De La Soul or PM Dawn. Seriously, how can one band and one album take me to so many different places all in the space of 37 minutes and via 12 songs? If there was some kind of award for taking your listener to as many places as possible in one album, Ocean Grove would take out first prize without any hesitation. I understand why they refer to themselves as ‘Odd World Music’ – their sound offers itself on many different levels of appeal.
Junkie$ is Limp Biskit sounding for sure. This one gets things moving again, takes it up a notch. The echoing vocals throughout the track give this one something else. This all leads to the final track – Freaks. Starting out with a softly spoken word and a slight feeling of despair, or perhaps reflection. This song wraps up the album to perfection. It’s emotive and the vocals give me shivers from head to toe.
‘Flip Phone Fantasy’ is a showcase of the high levels of talent from Ocean Grove and also of the diversity of their sound and their art. I commend the guys on this release. My only concern would be, how do you top this? I can’t wait to see what will come next from them, though there is clearly no rush on that. In my opinion, the guys have set their own bar so god damn high, that they’ll need to shoot past the stars, past the entire universe and into another realm with their next release. But you know what? I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that they’ll do it. And make it look easy when they do.
‘Flip Phone Fantasy‘ is out in full now via UNFD.
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Ocean Grove are:
Dale Tanner Vocals Twiggy Hunter Bass
Matt Henley Guitar Sam Bassal Drums
With thanks to Unified Music Group