Album Review: The Tea Party - The Ocean At The End (2014 LP)

Considering that The Tea Party have been together since ’90, give or take six years when they were apart due to “creative differences”, it’s kind of surprising that The Ocean At The End is only their eighth studio album. It seems that there’s an absolute abundance of music from this acclaimed Canadian band, but perhaps the illusion of plenty is conjured up because the music itself covers so many styles.

If fans are expecting something different from The Tea Party version 2014, they’ll be sorely disappointed, and so for those who want more of the same Tea Party magic it’s safe to state that The Ocean At The End will provide some pretty orgasmic moments. The album begins with “The Loc”, which is the most different track of them all because of its jaunty beat. God forbid, The Tea Party have become a contemporary version of Katrina And The Waves…but no. By track two, “The Black Sea”, we’re back to the reflective, dark, mysterious, orchestral lyrics and beats.

“The Black Sea” is reminiscent of the music you’d hear in any series about the Vikings with the instrumentation sounding urgent and rhythmic. The third track “Cypher” allows Jeff Burrows licence to drum his heart out and show us all how it’s done. Throw in the typical Tea Party guitar twang, mastered by Stuart Chatwood and Jeff Martin’s resonant words and you’ve got one beautifully crafted, gothic fairy tale of a song.

There’s something really interesting in every track, from the ‘Bowie-esque’ intro to “The 11th Hour”, the electronic sounds of Gary Numan in “Submission” to the early rock n’ roll energy in “The Cass Corridor”; surely there’s enough complexity for many listens and new discoveries each time. The most epic orchestral track is “Water’s On Fire”, and Tea Party fans of yore will be transported back to a time in the nineties when they still had hair or a waistline. You’ll not be disenchanted by the variety of instruments that have been dusted off and given a jolly good playing. Consider that Martin plays eleven, mainly stringed, instruments, Chatwood plays eleven instruments which are a combination of strings and percussion and Burrows plays five percussion instruments, you won’t be bored by any samey rock guitar riffs that come standard with your manufactured units.

This album is a cerebral challenge, which gently allows us to come down with track twelve – an instrumental piece called “Into The Unknown”. Maybe the title is a reflection on how the band is feeling now that they’ve ‘remarrried’. Still, we fans are so happy that The Tea Party have settled their differences and are making beautiful music again.

Review Score: 8.5 out of 10

The Ocean at the End is out in Australia tomorrow, September 5th.