The Ocean Party have quickly grown into one of Australia’s best indie rock bands, with their iconic soft, alterative sound evoking the cool calm of the ocean. With their forthcoming album The Oddfellow’s Hall set for release later this year, the boys from Wagga Wagga have come back to NSW, recording out of the titular hall to add a sense of homeliness to their music. As an attempt to capture important moments from the six band members lives, there is a bittersweet emotion embodied in their music. Releasing the album’s second single, ‘What It’s Worth’, the band puts this powerful emotion on full display.
Teasing the audience in with a slow, cool intro, The Ocean Party hit the audience with a strong sense of melancholy as the distant keyboards and harmonious vocals softly sing of a contemplative and deep moment of self-reflection. With the soft, reverb heavy guitar coming in with the chorus, The Ocean Party’s beautiful harmony dismisses the verse as they proclaim “and I know none of this makes me different, and I can take that for what it's worth.” There’s such subtle sorrow in the lyrics and vocals that as the second verse rolls around and the instrumentation builds up again, the emotions swirl and hit the listener. With a rhythm guitar and drums adding some kinetic energy, the deeply poetic lyrics continue to hit home, “and if I had to take a chance to be happy, well, I'm not even sure if I would.” The second chorus explodes with all the layers overlapping as backup vocals, a strumming acoustic guitar and second electric guitar riff work in such aural harmony that it turns into a joyful outcry, contrasting with the lyrics. The third verse breaks everything down, stripping back all the layers to focus on the troubled narrator’s painful feelings, “but can it wait until I'm deep in the ground?” Thankfully, the chorus explodes again, with the line “For what it’s worth”, imbued with an emotional outpouring that combines the melancholia of the lyrics with bright instrumentation to take this bittersweet storm even further, hitting the listener like waves in the ocean. As the singer fades out, repeating “it’s the price you pay”, the instruments swell with some amazing guitar work that is highly virtuosic, while remaining grounded in the song’s relaxed tone.
‘What It’s Worth’ is powerful, using the cool oceanic sound the band is known for to slam the audience with all the bittersweet emotion of their homecoming. If this is their preview for The Oddfellow’s Hall, The Ocean Party have been able to exemplify a growth, depth and sophistication in their songwriting. It is easy listening that begs the audience to listen a little closer and begin to feel the music. The Oddfellow’s Hall launches on November 9, with a national tour following later in the month.