Ocean Blue - Cerulean
The Ocean Blue are from that town in Pennsylvania which gave its name to America's most famous chocolate bar. Oh, yes they are. Despite what you might be hearing they are not from Glasgow or Liverpool. The music they play belongs in that dreamy and jangly category of the late eighties when bands such as the Cocteau Twins had their most significant exposure and dozens of bands sprang up emulating the Smiths. Had the Ocean Blue been British they might have had some success, but they were American and that sealed their fate. Bringing out a dream pop album tinged with elements of jangle pop in the States in 1991 was a huge mistake. The grunge of Nirvana was like a tsunami on the American music scene and only hip-hop seemed to able to ride out the wave of working class white frustration and anger which it represented. The Ocean Blue were lost in walls of noise and teenage angst.
That is a shame for in Cerulean they produced a fine album of laid back mellow sounds which are the perfect antidote to all that guitar thrashing and high energy youthful exuberance. Lyrically, the band were, or put themselves, in a strange place. At times the lyrics can seem enormously complex, such as "Ballerina out of Control" and "Mercury"; at other times the lyrics have a naivete and child-like simplicity about them. Vocalist David Schelzel manages to cover a range of topics with his smooth yet distinctive delivery. Topics such as lazy days, sailing, walking on the shoreline dominate, and there is not a mention of love, sex, drugs, booze, cars or any of the other topics which have dominated popular music for generations.
What the Ocean Blue have managed to do is to craft an album for the mood, and it helps if you are in a particular mood to listen to it. Some of the songs really have to be listened to in order to get the full flavour, but it is an effort well worth making. The title track is a perfect example of the cleverly written lyric and is one of those songs which is guaranteed to lift even the most downhearted spirit. And while on the subject of spirits, "The Planetarium Scene" is surprisingly spiritual in the feelings that it evokes without ever mentioning any spiritual or supernatural being - simply singing about the vast expanse of the universe seems to be enough to achieve that.
Other tracks cover themes as varied as a guided tour across some of the world's most famous sights to a nostalgic look back at a time when we were younger and life was so much simpler and less stressful. And it is by this time, the middle song on the album, "When Life Was Easy", that the point of this album finally dawns on you. This is an album deliberately crafted to bring those warm and fuzzy feelings of comfort back to you. This album is designed to relieve you of the everyday stresses which make all our lives such miserable pits of monotony and pressure. This is the perfect album for the wage slave heading to work on the tube; for the mother staying at home with the screaming baby; for the guy who slogs his guts out day after day to put food on the table and provide a home for his family; even for the workaholic CEO who hasn't seen his children in weeks and wonders why his wife wants to leave him. And if you fit any of those descriptions, or even see a little bit of yourself in any of them, then maybe you should check out Cerulean and get some soothing chills of your own.
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