The appeal of emotional hardcore is one that’s easy to see. There’s something so cathartic about seeing such an unfiltered display of hurt or pain put on record (particularly if the listener is in the same mindset), and intertwined with the raw delivery that comes naturally packaged with hardcore, it can be a potent listen to say the least. It’s what’s given acts like Touché Amoré and Casey such a push a recent times, but eclipsing all of them is Being As An Ocean, even more of an acquired taste thanks to Joel Quartuccio’s direct, almost spoken-word vocals, but a prospect that couldn’t have less artifice if it tried. Even now, there’s potentially more to be offered on their hugely anticipated fourth album Waiting For Morning To Come, their first release away from a label, and with nothing tying them down from moving into even more unique climes.
As for the result… Well, it’s certainly different, a more drastic shift than Being As An Ocean have ever taken. It’s virtually impossible to call this hardcore of any sort anymore, splitting the difference between electro-pop and post-rock with an abundance of spacious, synthetically-driven pieces. That’s why it’s difficult to class this album as “emotional” either, as Waiting For Morning To Come is such a tepid slog of an album, hitting peaks of visceral drive, but ones that are not only incredibly sparse, but also swallowed by the pretension and assertions towards grandiosity that Being As An Ocean try and ultimately fail to establish.
And you can tell how hard they’re trying. This was clearly an idea that worked in Being As An Ocean’s collective head – pairing their deeply intimate lyrics with a heavily produced backdrop for something that captures the airless, downbeat air that such subject matter thrives in. And to their credit, the band display a level of adaptability when put in these new surroundings that’s not bad. They definitely sound more comfortable when placed amongst more prominent guitars on Glow and the title track, but there’s a clarity on Black & Blue when all organic instruments drop back entirely and Michael McGough’s cleans feel right at home in a more overtly pop setting (even if Quartuccio’s screams are less so).
The problem comes with everything else, and how these moments are totally overshadowed by how much unnecessary filler is here. Of these fourteen tracks, seven are instrumental pieces, usually stripped-down piano pieces with the odd popping beat behind them, and any momentum that may have picked up is stopped dead. There’s no flow created or story told, just bitty, airy passages put together with no cohesion or real purpose. Even beyond that, it feels like such a drain on any potential resonance or deeper impact that could be created, instead diluting it to the point where nothing actually sticks and the entire fifty minutes stagnates thanks to utterly useless passages. Just look at eB tahT srewoP ehT, an almost-five-minute piece of unlistenable, reversed post-rock that puts a cap on just how pretentious this brand of self-indulgent naval-gazing can be, before Suddenly I Was Alone, five-and-a-half minutes of dull guitar loops that fades from the mind the moment it’s over. Put into perspective, that’s an entire fifth of this album wasted with absolutely no effect or payoff whatsoever, and Being As An Ocean seem to think that that’s an adequate use of time. Even in the closing title track, one of the few instances of a decent post-hardcore track and what’s meant to be the grand climax of this album, it’s cut off to allow a saxophone solo to tail the album off for no reason. It’s fine to want to create atmosphere, but when there’s actually supposed to be deeper purpose and a story to tell beyond that atmosphere, it actually needs to be established rather than just assumed that something will fall into place.
And that’s what’s so wrong about Waiting For Morning To Come, the fact that Being As An Ocean are completely sleepwalking through what could be such an important release for them and praying for a Hail Mary win to just fall into their laps. It’s not a fraction as compelling as it wants to be, and when self-importance is so high in priority as it clearly is here, it hardly paints a picture of something that’ll connect. Especially on Being As An Ocean’s part, this feels like such a waste of potential for what could’ve been their milestone moment, and yet it’s totally squandered in a release that’s dreary, over-long and spends too much time faffing around with pretentious meanderings than actually making an album that has a chance of working.
For fans of: Listener, Explosions In The Sky, 65daysofstatic
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Waiting For Morning To Come’ by Being As An Ocean is out now.