The Ocean Blue - The Ocean Blue

by Jim Harris Rating:7 Release Date:2015-11-21

This is a really curious album. It came out in 1989, has an early 80s syrupy pop dynamic; milquetoast faded hollow washed-out guitars coexisting with tinkly, airhead keyboards, and a lead singer who tries to sing like he’s from England, even though he’s from Hershey, PA. And their biggest hit was the tepid ‘Ballerina Out of Control’ at a time when I was listening Pixies, Husker Du, and The Dream Syndicate. 

Fuck a duck. So why am I reviewing it? I had a roommate who played this album over and over again until I wanted to scream. And until I started liking the damn thing a little.

The Ocean Blue, with their 1989 and 1990 albums, the self-titled first album and Cerulean created two very fine early 80s pop albums that sounded totally retro in 1989. 

The lonesome saxophone on ‘Drifting, Falling’ the dreamy limpy guitar of the opening track, ‘Between Something and Nothing’, every track evoked happier times of the British wave of alternative music that filled American campus radio stations in the early 80s.  Early Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, and you can’t listen to too many of the Ocean Blues songs without hearing the Churches ‘Under the Milky Way Tonight ‘(Even though they were Australian). 

All from a band from Pennsylvania.  All in 1990.  Yikes.

Listening to Blue Ocean today, as three of their albums are getting a re-release, the music actually holds up to some degree.  At least as a tribute to the 80s alternative pop scene.

Reportedly The Ocean Blue cite New Order and the Smiths as primary influences and still fill their live sets with covers from these two bands.  Don’t get this really.

This band has none of the edginess of the Smiths.  No snarly ironic lyrics or Johnny Marr riffs.  And The Blue Ocean is as far from New Order as you can get, even in the early New Order days, before their move to the club scene.

But if you are a fan of those gentle wispy love songs that floated pleasantly and plentifully through the radio-friendly 80s alternative scene, then the Blue Ocean, even if they are from Pennsylvania, evoke that era very nicely.

 

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