Striving to find a new identity, Californian quintet Being As An Ocean have returned with their fifth full-length release, ‘PROXY: An A.N.I.M.O. Story’.
Continuing in the same melodic vein as 2017’s ‘Waiting For Morning To Come’, the group have leaned heavily on vocalist Joel Quartuccio‘s melodic range whilst rooting themselves firmly within electronica, albeit driven by grooving riffs and (at times) thick distortion.
Creating a sense of sonic unity that bleeds throughout the record, the introduction draws from brass samples, modulated vocals and bursts of dubstep to capture a cinematic quality. Seguing into drum and bass breaks, first track proper ‘Play Pretend’ kicks off the record with guitarists Tyler Ross and Michael McGough delivering thick grooves and clean lead melodies to compliment Quartuccio‘s croon. Defying expectation, the track moves from the standard structure and culminates in a menagerie of stabbing strings and raw screams.
Whilst the bulk of the record sticks to the current sound that runs through modern post-hardcore, relying on grunge based dynamics and the incorporation of groove based riffs to add impact, there are moments of experimentation that elevate key tracks. This is showcased on ‘Brave’, melding woodwind and orchestral flourishes alongside a pulsating synth that pushes Quartuccio‘s restrained performance.
But not every highlight on the record is courtesy of left-field experimentation as ‘B.O.Y.’ shows, with McGough and Ross unleashing a spiky main riff to inject the record with energy. With barked vocals and Garrett Harney‘s shuffling drumbeat, the song bridges the gap between the group’s earlier releases and their current incarnation.
The same can be said for ‘Watch Me Bleed’, a track that infuses snappy vocals, droning, and distortion synths to create a bouncing late addition to the record. Jumping through guitar solos and juddering riffs, the track drives towards its conclusion at a frantic pace.
Even though there are some standout moments, the record ultimately suffers from a sterile production that smooths out too many edges, leaving a lot of the tracks without urgency or a noticeable dynamic range.
‘PROXY: An A.N.I.M.O. Story’ is a record that has a few shining moments and takes deviations, which strengthens their sound, but ultimately leaves little to come back to and will quickly fall into the background.