Album Review: The Ocean Party - Soft Focus (2014 LP)

Homegrown quintet The Ocean Party are back with their fourth album, Soft Focus, and it encompasses the local way of life better than ever. Carefree and gentle, the tracklist embodies a sense of laid-back ease that’s unmistakably Australian from beginning to end.

Listening to the album back to back, it’s tough to differentiate each track’s identity. Although the LP stands at 11 songs, they seamlessly blend with one another to create an immersive yet snappy listening experience. The tunes themselves are light on their feet, opting for a subtle selection of Eighties-pop undertones mixed with a buoyant, contemporary lyricism.

The nonchalant attitude of Soft Focus is further amplified by its even-tempered instrumental foundation. A heavy reliance on tranquil synth dominates the release, however sporadic injections of saxophone runs and country licks liven up an otherwise two-dimensional sound.

Introductory tracks “Went Out” and “Wading In” speak volumes of the band’s style. Their respective melodies are memorable and catchy, supported by the bubbly Aussie pronunciation lathered over the lyrics. Charming keyboard tunes and understated guitar twangs ooze relaxation, magnifying The Ocean Party’s blissful demeanour and cementing the LP’s seaside calm.

“Bed as a Grave” showcases an unexpectedly melancholy side to the band. Mood swings and crippling loneliness drive the track with a strong focus on downbeat string compositions and a newfound darkness within the words. The vocals themselves received a helping hand from Melbourne artist Ashley Bundang, resulting in an eerie set of sounds that epitomise the emotions at hand.

Soft Focus promotes a surprising sense of refined musicality that’s obscured beneath the easy-going surface. Its relaxing tunes encompass the best of both worlds, perfect for unwinding or thinking along to. Although The Ocean Party have burrowed deep into their niche, their willingness to grow together and learn has them destined for bigger and better things.

Review Score: 7.2 out of 10

Soft Focus is available now and can be purchased or previewed on iTunes.