Port OBrien - All We Could Do Was Sing
Matt Haigh 01/08/2008
All we could do was sing is the sound of sea-fairing Californians Port O'Brien, who promise to deliver a "great summer soundtrack". Considering the unrelenting rain this British summer, the album's recurring theme of water becomes strikingly apt. What the band really produce is a mixture of wistful ballads, jaunty summer anthems and reflective acoustics, neglecting to inject their tunes with anything resembling individuality or personality.
Opening song and first single I woke up today is vaguely reminiscent of The Arcade Fire, albeit a far more light-hearted version wherein the chorusing vocals tend to grate rather than please. Another Arcade-esque song and definite highlight is Fisherman's Son, an emotive song about destiny, storms and Alaska, all swathed in brooding strings that suffers for its transformation into another jaunty summer track. Towards the end, things take a turn for the slightly bizarre, with Valdez sounding like Bob Dylan trapped inside a tin can playing distorted guitar and burping loudly for two sombre minutes.
All things considered, this is a pretty standard, unoriginal album with little in the way of anything to set it apart from its contemporaries. It seems the first instrument anybody picks up these days is the guitar, and experimentation is proving more difficult to find in the current musical climate. There was an article in the Guardian recently asking the pertinent question "Does the world really need another indie band?" Having listened to this record and countless others just like it, the answer is a resounding "no".