Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves by The Ocean Blue

By Ron Powers

Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves by The Ocean Blue

The Ocean Blue’s eighth studio album, titled Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves, is made up of eleven well written and produced indie pop songs. It’s an outstanding addition to the band’s already impressive legacy and serves as yet another example of why this band is so great. Themes of love and loss run throughout the record, but there’s a lot of room for interpretation. Part of the album’s genius is that much of its meaning depends on who’s listening.

What’s great about this album is that although many of the new songs have dismal and painful themes, they aren’t presented in an overly emotional manner. In this way, the album works on multiple levels. For example, if you just feel like listing to some good indie pop while going about your business; this album delivers. But, if you want to listen more deeply, there’s a lot of meaning packed into the songs that allow for a richer experience.

The first track (“Kings and Queens”) is a good example of this. It has everything you want in a dream pop song: from its catchy analog synth lines and driving rhythm, to its smoothly delivered melodies and jangly guitars. Then there’s the lyrics. True to the albums serious tone, “Kings and Queens” is about death. Here’s a lyrical sample from its eloquent second verse…

“Breathe my last and depart and go where?
I know not
The black hole beyond all of space, and of time”

There’s a lot of depth and intelligence packed into those 21 words. Depending on who’s listening, their significance will vary. But what makes them truly great is the melody and music surrounding them. It’s the music that gets to a person’s heart fastest. It’s the pre-verbal meaning that draws you in. Then the depth and richness of what the lyrics are saying comes into focus and a more profound experience can happen.

On the production side, Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves has all the rich smoothness you would expect from The Ocean Blue. There are little to no hard edges on the album. Reverb is an ever-present element which soaks almost everything played or sung. I’d say, if you’re in the mood to float around with some R.E.M. like alternative rock that died and went to echo-delay heaven, search no further. This is the album for you.

In a recent interview with NPR, lead singer Schelzel said that the band had been going through hard times over the past 2 years. He said that, “Things just really feel like they’re ripping apart”. This is another reason I like the new album. It’s an act of love and kindness to take your pain and turn it into something beautiful. The Ocean Blue do just that with Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves.

If you’d like to know more about The Ocean Blue, you can learn more at theoceanblue.com. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To hear their music, visit Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, or any of the typical places music is streamed or sold. The band also has a tour scheduled for late 2019 and early 2020. Tickets are available at the band’s website.

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