This Oceanic Feeling: Universal Mind
There have been many bands consisting of the great and good who make their living behind the big names in the music business – backing-musicians, songwriters, producers and so on and so on… From this field arrives This Oceanic Feeling, a trio comprising multi-talent Chris Braide and drummer Ash Soan (both previously of The Producers alongside the likes of Trevor Horn) and bassist extraordinaire Lee Pomeroy.
Between the three of them, an amazing list of previous collaborators can be compiled, including (and we're scratching the surface here…) Steve Hackett, It Bites, Paloma Faith, Lana Del Ray, ELO, Robbie Williams, Rick Wakeman, Cher, Lily Allen, Billy Idol…I could go on. However together they've headed down a path which Braide himself rather wonderfully describes as "The Police or YES 90125 era, big shiny new wave pop music with rock trousers and occasionally prog sandals!" and again, that's merely surface scratching. As the twelve songs which make up debut offering Universal Mind become fixtures in your mind, everything from It Bites to The Feeling, The Skys to The Buggles, or even A-Ha and a whole host of 80s new wavers, 90s progsters and 00s pop-rocking chartsy types rush by - oh and 90125 era Yes and The Police! It's a sumptuous mixture which quickly impacts, yet slowly seeps into the subconscious; resulting in an album which has you singing along as you become more and more involved in melodies and motifs which stand up to and indeed improve with subsequent listens.
The songs themselves sparkle and dazzle, the production (as you'd expect from someone as in demand for this skill as Braide) shimmering and remote, yet strong and cosy, all at the same time. It's as though someone grasped the best aspects of 80s pop-rock and sprinkled them liberally over cutting edge sounds, making a current album which somehow harks to a different age without ever tipping into the dark cavernous void of retro.
Each song deserves mention, "Lie Detector" a low-key opening which slowly seduces through melancholy (a theme visited often across the album, both musically and lyrically, as we search for our "true selves…"), as "Put Down The Gun" cleverly ups the pace slightly and reveals a few more of the hooks which this album thrives on. Throughout, keen choruses begin to take a hold and refuse to let go, "Radio" proving such an effect can be created through sparse arrangement and simply stunning vocals from Braide, who proves an irresistible wordsmith and word-deliverer throughout. "Logotherapy" decides it's OK to be blatant about your influences, more than a nod of the head to Sting's vocals (Braide is a true singing chameleon) and Steward Copeland's percussion, unashamedly relived in glorious style and another shout it out chorus. From there "Universal Mind" brings an almost (modern era) It Bites eye for fragile construction to a poppier outlook, as "Intensive Care" reveals a more introspective proggy bent in its short burst of restrainment; whereas "Wake Up" builds like H era Marillion.
"I Play Debussy" has hit written all over it, a superbly realised lyric married to utterly unforgettable piano work and bass lines, which combine to make one of the most impactful songs I've heard in many a moon. "Johnny Tragic" is up next, a smidgen of Fine Young Cannibals even alluded to in another song which takes up residence in the mind for hours after. The closing trio change tack once more, "Karma Camera" landing somewhere between Pink Floyd, Keane and It Bites, while "Season Of Light" once more dances and delights as though it's a new wave hit of 80s proportions, before the short and self explanatory "Finale" brings the joyous journey to an instrumental end.
Universal Mind works on many levels; beautiful melodies combined with meaningful lyrics, depth of songwriting and skilled arrangements to hooks aplenty, all combining to create an album which truly captivates and challenges in equal measure - the undoubted ability to engage from the off never to be underestimated either.
Put simply, what This Oceanic Feeling have created with Universal Mind is one of the strongest albums I've heard, and am likely to hear, all year.
1. Lie Detector
2. Put Down The Gun
5. Universal Mind
6. Intensive Care
7. Wake Up
8. I Play Debussy
9. Johnny Tragic
10. Karma Camera
11. Season Of Light
Added: August 4th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: This Oceanic Feeling on Facebook
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