Being as an Ocean’s self-titled effort is the band’s third record and comes only one year after the release of How We Both Wondrously Perish; a quick turnaround for a band that’s spent the past eleven months touring the world. Despite its relatively swift delivery, Being as an Ocean is a well structured, well executed record and the most cohesive package the band has created to date.
Having started life as a melodic hardcore band with debut album Dear G-d,the band migrated towards post-hardcore with sophomore effort How We Both Wondrously Perish. This record continues the post-hardcore theme, with vocalist Joel Quartuccio’s aggressive shouts being equally weighted against guitarist/vocalist Michael McCough’s cleanly delivered choruses. Musically the guitar tones are crisp, providing a clean sound that offers definition rather than being heavily distorted and down-tuned. The muted level of distortion allows for clean texture in the guitars, adding emphasis on the notes being played which is refreshing to hear in a genre like this. The drums are crisp and the addition of subtly placed electronics adds accent without overshadowing the core instruments.
Despite the clarity in the music, Being as an Ocean is still a heavy record thanks to Quartuccio’s vocal performance. Delivering all of the aggression through vocals rather than guitars gives the record an interesting flavour and the band a unique sound. Quartuccio uses a blend of screams and spoken-word passages, the latter being particularly effective at drawing out the messages behind the lyrics and reinforcing the emotion behind their themes. This spoken-word element, combined with the quality of the narrative in the lyrics is where this album really shines. Opening track “Little Richie” explores an abusive parental relationship, told from the perspective of a young child, a theme which is carried forward to the following track before being drawn to a fatal conclusion on the record’s final two songs. The middle section explores concepts of faith, but even here the idea of ‘father’ is a central theme, providing an interesting comparison of relationships with both a biological and spiritual father. Throughout the record, the emotion behind each song’s meaning is amplified by Quartuccio’s delivery, which draws the listener into the message.
McCough has great tone and the clean vocals are well sung, however as the album progresses, the choruses and clean vocal arrangements start to feel familiar and recycled. While the choruses do provide an effective contrast against the aggressive vocals, the placement of these melodies follows a consistent formula, making them repetitive and predictable towards the latter stages of the record. It would be good to hear the band experiment with song-structures and vocal arrangements to keep the listener engaged with dynamics and spontaneity. Overall, Being as an Ocean have cultivated a strong sound through the blend of screamed vocals and spoken-word narratives, accentuated by impressive lyrical content. With a little more attention on making the melodic parts less predictable, the record would be more varied and have an extended shelf-life.