Lost Horizon (Independent)
Victoria’s Ocean Noise makes sophisticated indie pop and features alternating lead vocals by a male singer and a female one, who also harmonize wonderfully with each other. Keyboardist Rachel Deines and guitarist Brian Ypma are the singers in question, and while they might not be comfortable being pegged as the West Coast’s answer to Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell, Stars might be the best comparison, as in “recommended if you like”.
Ocean Noise can play with surging intensity, as it proves on the synthesizer-driven opening track, “Ever Restless”, and the guitar-churned “Always Be Enough”. But when the band slows things down, the songs are just as effective. “Trace”, for example, unfolds over a softly rolling acoustic guitar, and “No Sound” builds with unexpected rhythmic shifts and subtly jazzy chord changes. “No Sound” also brings the melodrama like nobody’s business.
That, in fact, is one of Ocean Noise’s defining characteristics, along with unswerving sincerity. This is music that takes itself seriously and demands that you, the listener, do the same. If you’re prepared to weather 13 tracks of ceaseless earnestness, Lost Horizon offers plenty of rewards. An abundance of hooks isn’t one of them, but the band smartly ends the proceedings with the searing title cut, whose yearning refrain of “Ear to the ground and drowning in the sound, it’s deafening” feels like the album’s emotional climax.