The Transcendence and Catharsis of Oceanator’s ‘Nothing’s Ever Fine’
By Nathan Leigh
April 8, 2022
“I feel the weather change
Gets harder every day
Feels like the sun’s fixing to kill us.”
As the pandemic grinds into its second year and offers itself up as a sneak preview of climate catastrophe, it’s hard to avoid the creeping sense of dread. On that backdrop comes Oceanator’s stunning Nothing’s Ever Fine. It’s an album that owns the malaise and despair of the moment, examining the existential anguish of the modern moment, and digs for signs of life and hope. It’s that impulse that’s what makes Nothing’s Ever Fine so remarkable. Elise Okusami is far from the first person to record an album about how fucked everything is, but throughout there’s a refusal to accept that this is how it must be.
Standout tracks like the irony-tinged singles “The Last Summer” and “Bad Brain Daze” wrest a “fuck it, let’s celebrate anyway” quality from the despair. Within Oceanator’s melting melodies is a world of conflict, a jumble of inextricably intertwined opposing emotions, the mutual combustion of which provides the energy source for the album. Elise Okusami has always had a way with melodies that move with weight and purpose, and throughout Nothing’s Ever Fine, she puts her skills to the test. Matched with lyrics that defy easy answers because, well, there aren’t any, and refuse to accept the world as it is while at the same time refusing to see it for anything it isn’t, the album is full of moments of devastatingly beautiful honesty.
The highlight of course is the stunning closer “Evening” which builds on the time passage themes that pepper the record. The production expands from the tight overdriven guitars that mark the album to include aching strings and expansive ambiance. Bartees Strange’s production is never fussy, he knows to trust Elise and her brother Mike to do their thing. But on “Evening,” the widening of the sonic palette serves as a reminder that even the darkest storm clouds do eventually pass. After spending 10 songs running through her myriad stressors and anxieties, Elise waves it away with a reminder to “listen to the cicadas.” It’s a level of catharsis that many albums aspire to and few truly achieve. With Nothing’s Ever Fine, Elise Okusami has created an impressively timeless document of the times.
Follow Oceanator on Instagram @oceanatorband for upcoming tourdates and more.
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