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OceanLab

Sirens of the Sea

(Ultra; US: 5 Aug 2008; UK: 21 Jul 2008; Canada release date: 2 Sep 2008)

The debut full-length collaboration between charting UK dance act Above & Beyond and singer Justine Suissa was not only recorded in Ibiza, but truly captures the theme of the resort culture. That means, popularity aside or even expected, Sirens of the Sea is watered down lameness. All things considered, the instrumentals display a decent variety of somewhat flimsy Sasha and Spooky house, utilizing many overused sounds and formulas from days past (read: a whole lotta “oonce-oonce-oonce”). They are technically solid, but generally quite safe and uninspired.


It’s the vocals that are the main weakness here. Justine’s voice is okay, perhaps falling prey to Autotune a little too much. Her lyrics are seriously lacking, though. She tackles the odd big theme, like the glaciers melting and war at sea, but buries them in a lot of wishy-washy sentimentalism. “If I Could Fly” muses about flying and seeing the world down there, how free that would feel, between pseudo-hippy denunciations of our isolating social nature. It just seems more like she’s telling us what we want to hear rather than what she actually wants to say, with the possible exception of “Miracle” and its call for action on climate change against the tide of religious apathy awaiting judgment day. However, in this context, I doubt partygoers will bother to heed the worthwhile messages. I have a tough time believing this record and I doubt it will beckon that many ships to their rocky doom, but at least it shows some respectable effort to do what they can to improve this situation.

Rating:

Author of blurbs, curator of playlists, and booker of shows, Alan Ranta has been plugging away at that music writing and programming thing since 2004. His brutally honest critical opinion has appeared in such publications as Exclaim!, CBC Music, PopMatters and Tiny Mix Tapes, and has been enlisted to help judge the Polaris Music Prize, Pazz & Jop, and Juno Awards. Based in East Van, he graduated with a BFA in music from Simon Fraser University in 2012. He's also a social media plague, cat whisperer, socio-political haranguer, Canucks fan, and one of the last remaining cowboys, with a butt that won't quit.


Tagged as: house | oceanlab
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