Is it a bird? It is a plane? No. It’s Miss TK & The Revenge’s mothership landin’ on a beach near you. Don’t be alarmed—their mission is purely to pack some disco dynamite into your grey, grim, dreary skies. Bring your cowbells folks, it’s time to par-tay…
Those born under the mirrorball signs of Deee Lite, Funkadelic and The B-52s will find much to adore in these 13 tracks designed as a portable “bonfire beach party jam”. Basic ingredients listed on the side of box are; Fatback bass, disco claps, wooo’s, sci-fi bleeps ‘n bloops, all captained by a sultry, but often woozy lady pilot (played here admirably by Tannis Kristanjson, aka “Miss TK”). This may be their second attempt at landing (after 2004’s XOXO) but, boys and girls, for the most part, conditions are gooood.
The Ocean Likes To Party Too is clearly conceived by professional good timers. This isn’t a drill, it’s the real thing. This is a party, this is a disco. For most of the duration, we’re blasted by an onslaught of sleazy, glitzy disco-funk and Miss TK endlessly pleading “Don’t be a stooge!”, “Feel the beat!”, “Gettin’ up and dancin’/That’s how I make it happen” and the brilliantly cryptic “Shut up and sing!”. It’s like having your own hyper life coach for 40 minutes, frantically pulling your strings like some sparkly-heeled puppetmaster. It’s highly contagious, an offer almost rude to refuse, and you’ll quickly succumb to the conclusion that, yes, in the end, the rhythm IS gonna get you…tonight! Just keep a barrel of Gatorade on hand.
Luckily, there is some space in the sound. The free flowing rainbows ‘n roots beers of “Body Bounce Back” and the babytalkin’ playground rappin’ “Shimmy Sha” could be lifted straight from M.I.A’s Kala—albeit thankfully minus her finger-wagging posturing. Elsewhere, a rollerskatin’ jam named “Saturday” recalls summer afternoons spent head spinnin’ on sheets of scrappy cardboard to beatbox hip-hop like Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam. “No tears only sunshine, it’s Saturday”, hollers TK euphorically through a loudspeaker. Yes Ma’am! Meanwhile, the collar adjustin’ steamy dramatics of “Backwards Boy” recall the power of Prince protégés circa 1985. Here, Miss TK adopts the role of a glamorous, purring shrink by asking “Are you happy backwards boy?/Walking through my mind/19 sessions/Out of time”. One imagines it’d be somewhat, ahem, compelling live.
The real treasures though are the skinny dips into dark wave on “Red Lites” and “Pancakes”. The former sounds like Gary Numan covering The Cure, while the latter has flashes of the midnight mysteries of Johnny Jewel’s Chromatics. Both show a band with the potential ability to transcend and reach beyond the “Get up and feel it” smoke machine glow of Saturday night fever. Miss TK is clearly a shining star, too. When she dispenses her candy lickin’ older sister advice over the sunny afro beat of “Posi Tip”, it’s genuinely heart warming. “Those people there/They wanna do it to you” she sagely observes before ultimately prescribing “Don’t stop it/Just keep it hot”. Priceless.
Of course nobody has a good time all the time. There’s nothing here that will change your life. It’s just born to boogie after all, not born to run. Some of the 13 tracks are too fleeting to leave any great impact—if only they’d taken fewer tracks but developed them beyond the borders of 3:30, it would’ve proved significantly more desirable. That said, and as gloriously daft as it is, Ocean is nigh on impossible to dislike. Any album that drops Scooby Doo references, lashings of booty rumblin’ bass, seagulls and Star Wars synths with head scratching wisdom like “We are unstoppable/We are the Generals” and “BASS! Now I know love is here to stay” is A-OK with me.
This is an album which passes on the eternal flame of Madge’s declaration, “Only when I’m dancing can I feel this free”. It’s ridiculous, fairly unoriginal, cheesy and dorky, but you should ultimately heed the call and surrender to the dancefloor. “When I grow up/You’re gonna miss me” cries TK and she’s damn right. Resistance is futile! Rip off that suit and tie before you turn into a computer! Go ahead, dive in, the water’s lovely. Hell, a portion of the royalties are even going to help fight ocean pollution, which proves there’s a real heart behind the beat. How can you refuse? Now pop your silver hot pants on, pass the disco biscuits and shake what yo’ Momma gave ya. That’s an order from the Generals dammit!