Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Ocean's Eyes Get Lost And Found

While London-based pop punk band The Ocean's Eyes has only played together for two years (and not even as a complete band), no one would ever guess it while listening to Lost Along The Way, their second EP. All four tracks are incredibly polished, reigniting a familiar sound from a decade ago.

Part of the EP might make someone think they were part of an early contemporary shift, but they weren't. Mitch Wright (rhythm guitar/vocals) and Luke McInroy (vocals) were still growing up, hanging out, and most likely watching bands instead of being on stage. But even then, it might have only been a matter of time before two longtime friends would eventually talk about starting their own band.

"After my old band broke up, we started jamming and flowing with some ideas," says Wright. "At first I thought it would not work whatsoever as Luke had quite bad timing. But then we had a few more meetups and started writing our first song together, which ended up being A Long Time Coming."

The first recording of A Long Time Coming, eventually included on their self-produced Lions EP (complete with production dropouts), wasn't perfect. Wright leaned on former bandmate Nick Birss and electronic drums to produce the original demo. It was just good enough to garner some attention on MySpace and catch some early interest for future gigs.

To book anything, of course, The Ocean's Eyes needed the balance of their band. They recruited two more friends, Ben Smith (drums) and Charlie Robery (bass) by December. A few months later, after Birss left to pursue other interests, they opened the lineup for Andy Dutnall (lead guitar/vocals).

"We had mentioned on our pages that were recording a new EP and I Am Mighty Records sent us an email asking if we would be interested in label support for the release," said Wright. "I don't know that Lions really had much to do with it, but they definitely saw room for maturity."

Lost Along The Way proved I Am Mighty Records right.

Booked into a better studio and with producer Daniel Broady (Futures, That Sunday Feeling), The Ocean's Eyes experienced a smoother recording session than anyone expected. Any of the rough edges are gone. It may even be too smooth at times, considering the context. Room Of Red, one of the four solid tracks, is about selling your soul to the devil and then wanting it back.

"I just read really weird things on the Internet," says Wright about the song. "I read about the 'Faustian bargain' and thought that would be a cool concept for a story line in the song. I usually come up with story lines whereas Luke [McInroy] writes more personal lyrics."

Wake Up, which McInroy wrote, is an excellent example of personal, emotive lyrics. The story reveals quite a bit about his upbringing. The song opens with how he had to weigh disappointing those close to him or living dishonestly while pushing aside his own ambitions.

"The chorus is about how I finally broke free and started to live life for myself, without worrying about what everybody else thinks," says McInroy. "As far as I'm concerned, making yourself happy is a thousand times more important than making anybody else happy."

Wake Up easily carries the most angst on the album, and hints of the band's heavier undercurrents that set them apart from other pop punk bands. Keep Me A Secret has heavier, darker elements too. Drummer Ben Smith says the song came together at the last minute and seemed to create itself. Everything about the song flowed naturally and fell together.

"The main thing we ask ourselves is ... are we happy playing it?" says Smith. "We tend to not think about the genre when writing music. Having Andy [Dutnall] in the band has changed our sound for the better too. I feel we've stepped up as musicians and are comfortable playing with each other. We're enjoying the ride."

Expect the ride to continue. As their first label release, this EP suggests that any full length in the future would make for a great album unless they morph into a boy band with pop songs. Then all bets are off.

Lost Along The Way By The Ocean's Eyes Hits At 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

I'd like to see them bring more of an edge to their vocals, especially those that call for it. Doing so would make for a deeper connection. All it would take is channeling some of that runaway energy. As for their technical skills, there's no question. They're exploding and just keep getting better.

Lost Along The Way by The Ocean's Eyes is available on iTunes. Lost Along The Way is also on Amazon. Visit their Tumblr page and you can download the Lions EP for free. The evolution will blow your mind.
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