Review written by Paul Hinkley Smith
Hailing from Edmonton Alberta, Picture The Ocean used to be Jesse Dee & Jacquie B. By their own admission they have left a more rootsy sound behind to release something that they describe on their website as alt-pop. I’m not sure about that moniker which to my ears would be an
entirely derogatory piece of self-description. I’m also not sure if you can describe an album as atmospheric in its entirety but on first listen there seems to be so much going on as the band drift across various soundscapes. That’s why I think the term alt-pop does them a disservice. Pop music is by definition kind of throwaway, existing in the moment that it appears, fun to be enjoyed in an
instantly gratifying way. I don t get that sense with this album, and I’m not trying to sound like a music snob either. Sure, the production on this album is crafted, polished and very clean
(without being soulless) but is just too damn interesting to be pop.
Recorded in its entirety over an 11 day period in January 2012 according to the liner notes, you would never guess that by what is presented to your ears. This band must have been running pretty hot before they even got near a studio. Sometimes when reviewing albums I like to pick out particular tracks if I pick up on a particular theme or sound that stands out from the other tracks. If an album is a melting pot of different styles from track to track then it is worth drawing attention to. It is hard to do that with this album. Delving into the lyrics and the liner notes then it is clear that the main theme running across the album as a whole - at least lyrically is life on the road. Melodically the tracks seem to meld together which isn’t to say that they don’t stand out from each other. More that they complement each other. Some albums sound like they are cobbled together; this one has a beginning, middle and end before you are even aware of the individual track titles. It works as a whole. Everything about it is well put together. The shortest track is just under four and a half minutes long but nothing sounds self-indulgent or that it should be edited down.
After a couple of listens this already sounds like I have had it hanging around for a while, testament to it being catchy enough without it sounding too forced or false. I am not even sure who else I would want to compare it to. In parts perhaps Ockervill River, Great Lake Swimmers or
Horse Stories or maybe even Jesse Sykes& The Sweet Hereafter. I’m never really comfortable with comparisons and in this case they don’t entirely fit the bill. Perhaps the best thing I could say that for a download price of $9.99CAD this is worth a punt.