While other Britpop bands from the 1990’s modeled themselves on The Kinks in particular on Ray Davies gift for telling believable stories about English working class dreams, aspirations, problems, Ocean Colour Scene was content to be the Small Faces. That is to say a bigger rock sound but one that was faceless. That isn’t to say they weren’t a good band. Their second album MOSELEY SHOALS was one of the best records of that era and their fourth record ONE FOR THE MODERN had a real growth in the songwriting and contains many of their best songs. In fact all of their albums are good. If there was some special award for consistency in a band’s discography given out, they would have won it.
Their new record PAINTING(their 10th) like their last record SATURDAY doesn’t so much change their sound as pare it down and sweeten it up simultaneously. The short catchy songs overflow with enthusiasm and a healthy dose of string sections and keyboards behind the guitars sounding more like direct 60’s pop rather than Oasis 90’s trad rock. This sounds like a band fresh and young not grizzled veterans approaching 20 years in music. They even tackle in a general way a few social issues with songs that refer to the British casualties in Afghanistan, the British economy, and the London Olympics.
Also the harmony vocals are soaring, sweet, Hollies-like. If anything, the vocals (a weak area in the past) have improved over the years.
Best songs (after a couple of listens) – Professor Perplexity, The Union, The Winning Side, I Don’t Want To leave England, Mistaken Identity and the glorious and punchy title track which puts one in the mind of power pop.