The Ocean Party’s New 12-Minute Album Proves Size Doesn’t Matter
We're premiering 'I.B.O.', a thoughtful and experimental new 12-minute, 12-track project from the Wagga-bred six-piece.
By my count, The Ocean Party have put out anywhere between 10 and 12 records over the past six years. That calculation could be wrong, and it probably is. There’s probably a lot more than that! Either way, that’s a preposterously large output, and it’s especially extraordinary considering that very little of it is bad. Since the beginning of their very prolific career, the Wagga-bred six-piece have broken down and rebuilt their sound––a kind of sun-dried, spare indie-rock––a million times over, whether through shifts in form, such as last year’s Guilt EP, or style, through incorporation of new sounds, voices and ideas.
I.B.O., the band’s latest record, marks new territory in both style and form. A twelve-track record that’s over in twelve minutes, I.B.O. (an acronym for “It’s Back On”) finds each of the band’s six songwriters contributing two one-minute songs. The breadth of style and texture on I.B.O. is stunning; few tracks are comparable to previous Ocean Party records, and many eschew genre or conventional form in favour of more experimental modes, such as on the distorted, maximalist opener “Feel All That I Can” or the terse, witty post-punk track “Folding Chair”. Elsewhere, the band play with garage (“Fallin’ Off The Bone”), light synth-pop (“Lucky Guess”) and romantic balladry (“Battle For Love”).
Today, we’re premiering I.B.O. We spoke to The Ocean Party’s Snowy about the record, which you can hear streaming below.
NOISEY: IBO is 12 tracks in 12 minutes; why that format?
Snowy: We spent a week in Yass, NSW earlier this year recording a new full-length Ocean Party LP and had the idea to make a sort of miniature version of the album at the same time. It was a fun way to change up the mood or keep momentum between tracking some of the more considered songs. There are 6 songwriters in the band you can fit about 12 minutes onto a 7 inch record. Two one-minute tracks each sounded like a fun idea.
Tierra Whack released a 15-minute, 15-track record. Do you feel any competition there?
I didn’t actually know about this album but after listening to it a couple of times just now I can safely say: No, there is no competition there at all. Tierra Whack’s album is a really clever, masterfully made album whereas ours is literally the sound of six people in a community hall in rural NSW trying to outdo each other with the dumbest and funnest way to approach writing a song. I think we got some surprisingly nice results and some suitably fucked up ones too.
IBO, I assume, stands for “It’s Back On’. Why IBO? Was it ever back off?
That is either a very lucky guess or you had some insider knowledge because "IBO" is a pretty specific deep-cut, unfunny Ocean Party in-joke. Like the album art for this release, the title is just another little piece of the puzzle. It may or may not become clearer on the release of the full-length sister album later in the year. And no, "it" was never really “off".
By my count, you’ve released somewhere between eight and eleven vaguely full-length projects over the past six years. What’s your favourite? How would you rank them?Thankfully it's always been a case of the latest thing we make being our favourite. At least for a good few months after we make it. Because we continually reconsider the way we approach recording each new album, we're getting better at having the best time possible during the process. That makes us biased towards the newest thing as “the best thing we’ve done”. When that bias fades we all get a little more perspective but it’d be silly to rank them because at the end of the day they’re all a bit shit.
A few of you have put out solo records or work with other bands over the past few years. How do you manage it all?
Playing with other bands and making our own music individually is one way that we manage to keep doing The Ocean Party. On the flip-side, making music as The Ocean Party is a way of dealing with, what can sometimes be, the more draining aspects of creating individually or navigating the politics of playing in bands with unfamiliar personalities. Having modest ambitions, being content to keep playing music for and with each other, makes things really easy.
There’s this recurring theme through your music––I’d say definitely on “More To Run”, “Restless”, “Better Off”, “Guess Work”––where you deal with modern masculinity and concepts of identity really interestingly. Why do you think those threads continue to run through?
It’s nice to hear that that comes across as a recurring theme in our music. We’re definitely not a band who consider that our music would be particularly interesting to anyone beyond ourselves and I’m sure we’d all agree that there are millions of other artists who’s music should definitely be heard over ours. I think that the biggest part of why we still exist as The Ocean Party and why we keep making new music together is about continuing this dialogue, between the six of us, that is about trying to be ok people rather than a good band.
Do you think you’ll keep up the amount of music you’re putting out over the next few years?
I find it hard to imagine us not continuing to put the same amount of music out. We’ll definitely still be making it.
Listen to The Ocean Party's I.B.O.:
Shaad D'Souza is Noisey's Australian editor. Follow him on Twitter.