Excellence in conformity

Truth be told, Oceanlane is really not remarkable.

The duo’s music falls easily into that over-extended, catch-all tag of “emo”.

The melodies on the band’s debut, On my way back home, hit all the right peaks and valleys for earnestness and sincerity. The backing vocals harmonize for that right dosage of sweet. The guitars ring during the verses, buzz at the choruses.

“Everlasting Scene”, the album’s opener, is what a watered-down Smashing Pumpkins may have sounded like if James Iha were in charge.

On my way back home is so blatantly targeted for a specific audience, it’s almost amazing it’s not theme music for a show on the WB.

If that happened, Oceanlane would be the first Japanese rock band to accomplish that feat.

Oceanlane may sound like yet another in a long line of American emo bands, were it not for the fact the duo are actually based in Japan.

All of the band’s songs are sung in English by Hajime, who shows no hint of an accent.

And while Oceanlane may sound rather predictable, the band does receive some major credits.

Hajime’s singing, for one, isn’t as annoyingly whiny as most music branded “emo”. There’s still a nasal quality requisite for this kind of music, but it’s not as preciously grating.

And even if Oceanlane’s songwriting won’t give Quruli or Art-School any sleepless nights, the duo still offer up a batch better than most.

Wiseass remarks about Smashing Pumpkins aside, “Everlasting Gaze” is actually a decent sugary pop song, and I always liked James Iha anyway. “Sign” makes a great choice as a pre-release single.

Bandmate Kay takes a turn on vocals on “Broken Wings”, and if you listen close, you can hear a hint of his accent.

On my way back home aims for a specific aesthetic and hits it on the mark. Oceanlane does what it does well, even if it’s not exactly earth-shattering.