Pacific Ocean

So Beautiful and Cheap and Warm

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Ed Baluyut (Versus), Connie Lovatt (Containe), and Steve Pilgrim are The Pacific Ocean. Each of their records up to this point has been an improvement on the last, and this is no different. So Beautiful and So Warm is a low-key, emotional disc that could be lumped into the Yo La Tengo/Unrest/Versus class of indie rock quite easily. It begins with the austere and beautiful "Adam's Song," which is built around an almost classical guitar melody with Lovatt's fragile voice pitched just above a whisper, with Baluyut floating in with angelic harmonies. The vocals are a strong suit throughout. Baluyut's harmonies, especially on "I'm Part of Everything Again," are breathtaking, and Lovatt's lead vocals are never less than warm and assured. Another strength of the record is the sonic twist the group tosses into their melancholy mix, like the plunking guitar on "Fifty Dollars" that sounds like it is playing a different song entirely, or Benjamin Cho's single note cello sawing its way through "There's No One You Won't Walk Past." The Pacific Ocean put a lot of care into the sound of this record, and credit should also be given to producer Johnny Appleseed for getting such a warm and intimate sound. The only track that is a bit of a letdown is "Waterflower," as it is built around spoken word passages. It is exceedingly rare for spoken passages, especially on indie rock records, to be anything less than embarrassing. This misstep is more than made up for by the sweetly sung cover of Queen's "'39." It is always nice when bands pick obscure and surprising songs to cover. So Beautiful and Cheap and Warm isn't a knockout; none of the songs are standouts, but the warm, autumnal mood will stick with you for a while.

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