Since Baths' excellent 2013 album Obsidian was almost frighteningly intense and confessional, it's not surprising that Will Wiesenfeld lightens up a little on the Ocean Death EP. These songs aren't exactly lighthearted -- though touches of mordant wit surface here and there -- but they echo Obsidian's concerns with slightly different perspectives. Wiesenfeld explores love, death, and the death of love in ways that are more reflective than wrenching: where Obsidian's "Earth Death" was visceral and claustrophobic, the EP's title track is almost giddy, promising freedom in its choral harmonies and ritual-like beats. Ocean Death's subtler sounds and emotions have just as much impact as that album's more brutal approach, however. Wiesenfeld pairs beguiling music with blunt words on "Orator," summing up a relationship that's already dead neatly with the lyric "We can talk all you want/But you don't speak to me." On "Yawn," he traces the almost imperceptible line between comfort and complacency, singing "Your steady breath when you're reading/I think about our love and its lack of meaning" as static chips away at his distant piano and vocals. The closest he gets to a love song is "Fade White," a sweetly nihilistic wish for shared oblivion that sounds at once desperate and wry. Ocean Death isn't as overtly ambitious as its predecessor, but it's a welcome companion piece, full of finely sketched portraits that showcase Wiesenfeld's growth and depth more than Obsidian's fury sometimes allowed.
Ocean Death Review
by Heather Phares