The Ocean Blue
Davy Jones' Locker
First Appeared at The Music Box, May 2001, Volume 8, #5
Written by John Metzger
It's funny how some artists succeed where others fail. Part of the formula is no doubt talent, but it's unfortunately a rather small piece of the puzzle. Just think about all the superstars who rise to the top of the charts — their photographs gracing every magazine cover and news story — and how often you've wondered just how they managed to fare so well. The answer, of course, lies within the band's ability to cultivate hype, and this is most often relegated to acts signed to major labels. Yet, there is also a certain sense of timing — would the world have been ready for Nirvana and Pearl Jam just a few years earlier? Probably not, given the god-awful bands that did succeed in the latter part of the '80s.
So here then is the deal with The Ocean Blue: Despite a twelve-year career, the band has lived in relative obscurity — not for lack of talent, but because their music is largely set in the melancholic early '80s musings of The Smiths. And although Morrissey can craft a better single, The Ocean Blue's latest release Davy Jones' Locker (when taken as a whole) actually holds together a bit better than any of Morrissey's albums since his former band's demise. Where his albums often sounded monochromatic in scope, The Ocean Blue manages to fold in a few other shadings to keep things more interesting. It doesn't seem to matter whether the group is drawing from the acoustic folk-rock of R.E.M., the modern rock sounds of the Psychedelic Furs, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Modern English, or '60s groups like The Byrds, The Beatles, Buffalo Springfield, and Gerry & the Pacemakers. Though this sounds seemingly diverse, The Ocean Blue simply makes it work by building simple, supple melodies and dreamy atmospheres that swirl and surround.
Davy Jones' Locker is not patently '60s or '80s fare, and in fact, the album winds up sounding an awful lot like a pre-cursor to Oasis. Of course, that's because The Ocean Blue actually is. The difference is that Oasis wound up being in the right place at the right time. Maybe, just maybe, Davy Jones' Locker will set things right.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box