Stemming from a post-hardcore tradition, We Are the Ocean have been releasing more and more approachable music for the past five years. Their newest release Ark, is following this trend. However, this time the step away from their underground beginnings is huge. Ark is a strange album. It feels like there are two polar opposites playing on this album. There is a slightly progressive, grandiose and sophisticated hard rock band, exploring states of being over the top of hard-hitting but experimental grooves and riffs. And then, there is this corny, generic, pop-rock band that can you could see playing Sex Is On Fire every second weekend at a regional pub.
You can actually sit down and distinguish these two themes song by song. The first track, also titled Ark, is great. A little bit reminiscent of Australian bands Birds of Tokyo or Karnivool, this song holds an epic riff at its centre. The structure of the song is incredible: it increases its intensity, until the crescendo at the end. The song sees experimental rhythms from the percussion and amazing work from Jack Spence, a bassist that seriously knows how to play.
However, sadly, the opener is the high water mark of the English band’s fourth album. Several tracks, such as Shere Khan, Holy Fire, Letter to Michael and The Midnight Law are worth listening to. The other seven songs on the album are comically bad. They are so cheesy that even a fourteen year old Justin Bieber fan, who has just broken up with her first boyfriend, would slap her forehead in disgrace. The best example of this cheesiness is in the opening line of the song There’s Nothing Wrong. It actually goes, “Brain freeze and my mind’s not thinking straight/Einstein and Freud could not equate/what’s going on in my head today”. I am sorry, what? Did you just grab the two smartest people you could think of and make them “equate” (might not the right word you’re looking for).
I could go on with making fun of the bad song writing on this album but hopefully I have made my point. Honestly, this is a shame, because these guys can play their instruments, have been playing long enough together to deserve some kind of recognition. They have also shown they have the ability to write good song. It’s just the majority of the tracks on this album are a major let down.