Ruining your legacy with an ill-conceived comeback record is something that is often discussed here on the podcast. The further away a band gets from their last release, the more dangerous the prospect of tarnishing that former glory.
The Ocean Blue is a band that arrived just in time for the early 90’s with a wonderful eponymous debut album. It introduced David Schelzel as a writer capable of immediate and pleasing hooks. They went one better with 1991’s “Cerulean” creating an album with real sonic depth. Following quickly on its heels was 1992’s “Beneath The Rhythm And Sound“.
All three albums had modern rock chart hits, and made them MTV 120 minutes regulars. However, as the 90’s rolled on, and every label on the planet went in search of the next Nirvana or Pearl Jam, the band jettisoned a member and what seemed to be their sound.
Perhaps, in The Ocean Blue’s case it depends on which album you call the comeback album. 1996’s “See The Ocean Blue” received zero promotion from a label going bankrupt, and despite a couple real gems like “Slide“, the album still saw the band trying to navigate uncertain times. They appeared to enter the wilderness. Only popping up with an independent release that only dedicated followers of the band will be in possession of. It wasn’t until 2004’s “Waterworks” EP that it seemed possible that they would find their way back. It is on this EP that the beginnings of what has emerged as the current incarnation of The Ocean Blue reveals itself.
“Ultramarine” begins with “Give It A Try”. The track is reminiscent of 93’s “Don’t Believe Everything You Hear” a rare foray into vague political commentary. However, it is saved by solid vocal delivery and the reintroduction of a key wall that older fans would immediately be pulled in by.
It transitions into the album’s first single “Sad Night, Where Is Morning?” This track could have easily been slipped into “Cerulean”. The album continues to flow with only one real throwaway track “A Rose Is A Rose”
Other highlights on the album include an apparent homage to The Smiths “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” with a similar arrangement on “Blow My Mind”. What really makes this album solid are the three closing tracks. Both “Whatever You Say, It Breaks My Heart” and “Ground Gives Way” could slip past you on first listen. “Touch Down On Earth” continues The Ocean Blue’s track record of writing solid closing tracks.
Prior fans of the band will want to buy this album. It will sit nicely with their earlier full lengths. It may even garner them a few new followers.The band would benefit from stepping back and letting an outside pair of ears work the album. Obviously, because of financial or other constraints, they’ve chosen to self-produce There’s a reason why authors have editors. Luckily and probably to their credit, it doesn’t kill the effort. What is left is a solid record in a solid discography.