Chris Sheldon (Feeder and so on) has done a very tidy production job on a couple of new but shapeless and over extended Oceansize tunes, with a storming live recording of "Massive Bereavement" that pushes the playing time up to over 20 minutes. Those who have heard Dark Star, Tool and bits of Mogwai will recognise obvious points of reference. Many (especially people in bands) will drool uncontrollably when they play at Joseph's Well in early May. But as happens with recorded work from strongly fancied bands, some doubts remain about whether Oceansize are quite as marketable as their early live reviews have suggested.
The title track "One Day All This Could Be Yours" opens up in mysterious and very promising style. Steve Lillywhite/Dark Star similarities are very marked. There's a very neat effect on the opening guitar line. It builds up gradually with double tracked whispered singing that works well. Then there's a heavy metal guitar line against an open space while the listener takes a single breath and its (dramatic effect cliche time) into the full-on mosh pit section with many repetitions and a loss of direction, ending on a reprise of the intro. A bit of an anticlimax.
"Breed Siamese" at track two swaggers in on big attention nailing chords but then stutters into a set of variations that own up to not really being a song at all. Just one fantastic bit after another. I've read one very posiitve review that insists you "have to pay close attention". Which is exactly the problem. There's no unity in this. It has all the hallmarks of something that has been "worked out" in the rehearsal room, with no creative nugget at its heart. These guys can, and do, play killer lines. They communicate incoherent frenzied excitement to perfection. No maturity yet.
The live track "Massive Bereavement" adopts the same pattern as track one - some light motifs and whispery vocal line at the intro, building up very slowly to a longer go-mental part. Too slowly to keep my attention. Live excitement doesn't always work at home.
This sort of stuff, with good songs and even more technical accomplishment, didn't work for Dark Star. It's hard to see how it's going to do the business for Oceansize. Either they need to dumb it all down (as in the Music) or they've got to find another gear and lift all that technical brilliance into something more meaningful and communicative (as in Radiohead). The key to the problem might be that they are such a successful live show that they haven't had to pay attention to the different structural demands of recorded work. Plenty of time yet.