Personnel: Christian Doble (vocals, guitar, saxophone); Alicia Gbur (vocals); Michael Spence (guitar, keyboards); Matt Rickle (drums).
Audio Mixer: Collin Dupuis.
Recording information: BGC; Russian Recording.
Photographer: Victoria Lincoln.
The sophomore studio long-player from the veteran Great Lakes indie rock quartet, Ultimate Oceans delivers another exemplary blast of melodious garage-tooled dream pop that's as muscular as it is graceful. Comprised of members from a bevy of Southeast Michigan's finest pop practitioners, including Kiddo, Child Bite, the Nice Device, the Von Bondies, Javelins, Thunderbirds Are Now!, and Those Transatlantics, Fawnn's pedigree alone should elicit more than just casual curiosity. Ultimate Oceans, in keeping with the nautical theme, washes in gently via an aerial-led non-assault of six-string-distributed major sevenths. As "Galaxies" progresses, the pace grows more insistent, culminating in a surprise saxophone and guitar battle that invokes the warm patina of late-'70s AOR rock. That pristine Fleetwood Mac-meets-Beach House opening eventually gives way to the punchy "Omnivore," a sugary sweet gale of bottom end-heavy power pop, with a soaring chorus that makes excellent use of Alicia Gbur's luminous voice. Elsewhere, the buoyant "Nosebleed," with its elliptical melody and moody, echo chamber guitar work, effectively channels "Wave of Mutilation"-era Pixies, while the nervy "Master Blaster" and the ghostly, psych-tinged "Phantom Phantasy" offer up opposite ends of the dream/power pop spectrum, with equally dizzying results. That predilection for pairing smart, unpredictable arrangements with earworm-ready melodies is the fulcrum on which Ultimate Oceans' just under 45-minute run time rocks to and fro on, and like the best summer storm, it rolls in with admirable bluster but leaves the roof intact. ~ James Christopher Monger