Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, the Ocean Grove trio put out their third full-length Up In The Air Forever (UNFD), shining a new light on their grunge, rock, and pop elements. The title is a reminder that nothing in life is set in stone, and one should be liberated by this realization rather than fearful of it. Each song shares a lighthearted and fun energy, yet sends empowering messages about creative expression and freedom from systematic lifestyles.
The album carries on the band’s “Oddworld” concept, which they originally devised around the time of their formation in the early 2010s. The Oddworld is an alternate universe where societal norms are set aside for global autonomy and individualism, encouraging humanity to live life on their own terms and embrace their unique ideas.
Opening track ‘Flava’ introduces the album’s smooth style blends with frontman Dale Tanner rapping over an atmospheric guitar. Uplifting lyrics float among wispy riffs for a laid-back yet driven nature that continues on throughout the record. Tracks like ‘Cali Sun’, ‘Bustin’ and ‘Bored’ employ the trio’s grunge tendencies while ‘Silver Lining’ leans towards their Brit-rock side.
The band’s pop elements suddenly take the spotlight for ‘HMU’ while keeping the fuzzy guitar tones. The instrumental sounds like it could be for a Britney Spears song, giving the album’s halfway point a sharp right turn as if to tell listeners there are still more surprises coming. The closing title track utilizes an array of synth tones that evoke a starry-eyed, head-in-the-clouds sentiment, like you’re floating through the Oddworld universe with a carefree mindset.
Not only do Ocean Grove confidently and unapologetically execute their genre-bending brand, but they deliver it while encouraging fans to unapologetically be themselves as well. Deploying their charismatic attitudes in a way that could even win over a gatekeeper’s support, the group have created a soundtrack for a new reality where total freethinking and independence are the norm.
8 / 10