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This album is absolutly mind-blowing. I don't care what direction ...and Oceans take after Cypher, everything they do is phenominal, but I hope its back to something like this- anyone would.
The way the band creates this "Wall" of sound that the keyboards layer over into, and the vocals fill with slightly disturbing melody that causes you to find yourself in somewhat of a trance. This is pure aural romance in an album case.
The guitars, while building this "Wall of sound" still continue to create riffs that can change from something that makes you feel happy, to something that might make you feel like you're pondering life. The guitars alone don't actually do this, they build the base for that. To stand alone would mean nothing for them, as they generally contribute as a whole. Pieces like Aquarium Of Children show the real beauty behind the guitars- they build over the wall when the keyboards are absent for any short period of time.
The same goes for the drumming. Its done GREAT, the usage of blast beats to hold the wall together from the sides, but stand alone they sounds awesome. Going from guitar riff to guitar riff, they hold their own in forming anything from simply melody to sheer aggressive strength. No tracks can really show any pure spectacular drumming, simply because it all stays the same. It stays powerful and compelling the whole damn time, you can't just pick one best track out, but if I HAD to, it would be Solipsism.
Now the vocals, these are something else. These and the keyboards accel over the aformentioned "wall" and provide a tranquil state of mind for anyone who cares enough to hear whats going on with everything at once. They provide a sort of escape from the otherwise noise box. The vocal performance on Mechanic Hippie was just.. great. It showed almost all of You's talent in it. This man does awesome black vocals, but some people find his "whining" parts annoying, I frankly think they kind of accent in such a way like the keyboards, ergo I don't see what anyone couldn't like about I Wish I Was Pregnant.
Noise box or no noise box, the keyboards pull through somethign wicked. Definatly the highlight of this album, the keyboards hold the world of ...and Oceans together and do so in such a way that if I said they didn't, I would need to be fucking shot. The Black Vagabond features a perfect showing of the keyboards at work. It shows that they can create a deep, dark feeling within the music as well as a creepy, almost upbeat one in the same track.
Bass serves only to accent guitars where anything may be sloppy, but in any case still sound great, assuming you notice them at all.
Track by track would be worthless, every one is done almost perfectly. When you listen to this album as a whole, it creates a... dark, almost disturbing feel.
Lyrically, I believe the album to be based upon the world, the people in it, the oddities the world faces, and in a more blunt way, some of the songs come off as about discovering yourself and discovering what it is that you care about. What you feel you want from yourself and what you feel should be done to create the best environment you would want to be in, and with that you should keep peace with yourself and with those who do the same but with you. Looking deeper, you can find remnants if not the entire thing, being about a disturbed man, looking in on everything and finding himself.
I don't think I will ever find an album I love more, at least not for some time. Crisp, clear, and powerful, this can change your outlook instantly if you care to think about what is said, and how chaotic it comes off as. Done so well, I don't see a reason to not own this. If you come across it, get it. If you come across the double pack with this and this awe inspiring band's first full release, DEFINATLY pick it up even if you have ANY second thoughts. It couldn't be more worth it.