REVIEW: We Are The Ocean – Go Now And Live

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Artist: We Are The Ocean
Album: Go Now And Live
Genre: Rock

One of the surprise packages of recent years, We Are the Ocean have staked a fine reputation on their boisterously brilliant material, backed by an impressive and extensive touring repartee that could put more established bands to shame. Having released an EP last year, they are spared some of the pressure that accompanies a sophomore release with Go Now and Live – though no one need worry as this is a solid (if flawed) record with much to recommend it.

If ever you’re looking for an emphatic opener, “Trouble is Temporary, Time Is Tonic” is what one is meant to sound like. It’s abrasive, immediate, and laden with intent, launching the album on an early crescendo of promise. It sets an instant high standard echoed in “What It Feels Like,” which keeps everything firmly in fifth gear. This one feels a tad more emotionally resonant (a trend that takes a more central role as the album elapses), but with a high-flying musical backdrop that thrills and engages. The verses are slick, high-class rock while the chorus anchors the song with a more sentimental heart.

“The Waiting Room” continues the high-tempo standard. Its formidably uproarious pace and instrumentation focus firm attention on the conviction of the lyrics, while maintaining a sense of vigor and energy about the record. The rhythm is jumpy and staccato, mixing finely with some lively vocal sparring. Indeed, the vocals are one of the more fascinating elements about the band – Dan Brown and Liam Cromby’s stirring interplays sound almost too mature for the music, implying a sense of age and wisdom that belies the band’s youthful appearance. Nonetheless, this gives the record a nicely discordant vibe, forcing one to cast a closer look than might be token for the perennial post-hardcore upstarts.

On “Run Away,” the album comes down a notch. It turns attention inward with more pleading, thoughtful lyrics. The music also drops a gear, with the verses set to bubbling guitar notes and backing sounds, a rich sound that is sublimely realised and makes for a vivid contrast to the intensity of the opening act. The song, accordingly, aches with a gorgeous sincerity, managing to be both gentle and thought-provoking. “Trials and Tribulations” follows, keeping things simpler and earnest, though for all their obvious merit the record loses steam with these as its midpoint. The band excel much more so when they keep things potent and upbeat.

“Overtime is a Crime” however deviates from this sullen sentiment, using a sharp, commanding guitar to kick things back into life. This is combined with a pitch-perfect vocal interplay to mould something slick and sultry, invigorating and dynamic. The song maintains a strong pace throughout, with a smarting guitar solo added to mix towards the end that adds an extra dose of effervescent. “Godspeed” is similarly rhythmic and similarly paced. Boasting a stellar opening, it uses one undulating verse of guitar artistry – and a delicious bass line – to instill itself firmly in your brain. This then builds to a soaring, lofty chorus that combines shimmering group vocals with breakneck pace.

Thereafter, “Now and Then” cuts a surprisingly sombre silhouette, as the band take things down a notch once more but perhaps at the wrong time. The song has strong pace and heartfelt vocals, but it feels a little out of place after the energetic romps that preceded it. “Follow What You Need” then makes a rousing appeal to listeners with its lyrics, but it somehow shoots just wide of the mark. The music doesn’t quite gel, feeling a little pastiche and uninventive for all the genuine sentiment on show.

For the album’s final note, “Before I Die” dresses down the rockier elements of the album and mixes them with the profound posturing of the slower songs. Pensive guitar offsets a firmer base in a good summation of the various strands that make the record a stand out, though it too doesn’t quite suit its placing. The album deserved a more definitive conclusion, if for nothing other than to bookend the raucous vehemence of its first few tracks appropriately.

That said, Go Now and Live is a fittingly energetic and pleasing album that suits the bright-eyed eagerness of its title. When the band are on their game, it’s an uproarious delight, filled with bravado and determined vision. Its only failings are in the slightly misguided slower segments, which endear quite nicely by themselves, but seem to distract the record from its full potential. Nothing that can’t be cured by a live setlist shuffle however, and the promise of their music definitely marks We Are the Ocean out as a band to be seen.

Score: 8/10
Review written by: Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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