Hey Ocean! The Hurt of Happiness

Hey Ocean! The Hurt of Happiness
8
On their latest release, The Hurt of Happiness, Hey Ocean! are in search of middle ground. From the dance-y synth-pop of "Mama Said" to the cinematic "Just Enough" to the quaint piano-driven "To the Sea," the record covers a lot of territory in 40 minutes. They described The Hurt of Happiness as seeking to bridge their pop and more experimental tendencies when announcing the record, and it largely succeeds.
 
Their sunny disposition rings out all over tracks like "Amsterdam" and "Mama Said," echoing the easygoing spirit of 2012's "Big Blue Wave." Elsewhere, they bring strutting funk bass lines to "Sleepwalker" and the title track, and do a remarkable War on Drugs impression on "Can't Let Go." They sound like they're not breaking a sweat over the nine tracks of the record, bouncing between moods and styles with ease.
 
There's a real feeling of liberation with this record, and it's not just because of the record's independent release. There's always a real danger of sounding lost and adrift with extra freedom, to throw yourself in a direction that doesn't work. But here, Hey Ocean! are earnest and adventurous enough to pull it off. The Hurt of Happiness showcases a group with room to breathe and have some fun, and the group takes full advantage of this opportunity to be themselves. (Independent)