Australia’s Ocean Alley played the first of two sold out headline shows in London at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. Seeing ‘Confidence’ from their second album Chiaroscuro awarded the prestigious title of number 1 song in Triple J’s Hottest 100 for 2018 has done their popularity no harm, this run of shows following numerous summer festival appearances, including Reading and Leeds. Whilst many of the audience are fellow Aussies, they do not feel an overwhelming majority and the band certainly draws from a wider demographic range than long haired surfer who you might expect to see.
The six-piece band’s laid-back pschy surf sound demonstrated growing maturity on Chiaroscuro, building on their potential rich debut Lost Tropics, and further exploring the jazz, prog and pop elements of their sound. In a live setting the band’s music is given more weight and punch, more angst is channelled into ‘Happy Sad’, the melodies of ‘Partner In Crime’ richer and the bass of fan favourite ‘Yellow Mellow’ deeper and more roving.
The band are also not afraid to indulge in extended instrumentals and solos. Indeed, from opener ‘Corduroy’ the band treat moments of the set as a 60’s psych jam and the revolving spotlight later in the night gives each member their own personal moment. This approach is justified with a musically tight set and a growing stage presence, particularly once lead Baden Donegal was released from behind his guitar.
Ocean Alley are still undoubtedly a product of their beach roots and the feelgood mid section of ‘Flowers And Booze’ and ‘Holiday’ enjoyed a positive crowd reception. These songs feel the perfect soundtrack for Sydney’s north beaches where the band hail from. It also makes for a nice segment in a set list that started with the darker ‘The Comedown’, on a particularly warm summer’s evening.
However, it is the more emotive tracks which provide the more lasting impact and rewarding listen, with new songs ‘Infinity’ and ‘Stained Glass’ continuing to show the bands evolution and developmnet. Whilst ‘Confidence’, the biggest song on the night, a relatively simple and shallow track, it demonstrates a clear ear for songwriting and a pop sensibility that will carry the band far when matched with the lush sonic landscapes, warm melodies and musicianship demonstrated in Camden. With the latest singles the band there is no reason to doubt even more is on its way.
Ocean Alley is Baden Donegal (vocals), Angus Goodwin (guitar), Nic Blom (bass), Lach Gallbraith (keys / vocals), Mitch Galbraith (guitar) and Tom O’Brien (drums).
Chiaroscuro can be streamed HERE.