The balmy, balearic-leaning style of house that has become popular over the last couple of years is uniquely suited to the album format. Driven by relaxed atmospheres and melody-driven arrangements, LPs from the likes of Mark Barrot and D.K. are great soundtracks to warm summer evenings rather than a bunch of club cuts hastily thrown together. Another key source for the sound is Seb Wildblood and Jake Hollick’s Coastal Haze label, which specialises in breezy house long-players.
Their latest taps Canadian producer Jamison Isaak, who is mostly known for his Tycho-meets-indie pop tunes under his Teen Daze alias. As Pacific Coliseum he casts his ear for addictive melody into a sun-bleached mould, hitting on a winning formula that cushions the ears and soothes the mind. The tracks on Ocean City sacrifice variety for mood, hitting on a fusion of wistful melodies and gentle rhythms and staying there.
Despite the unstinting uniformity of Isaak’s sound, there are enough subtle deviations across the album to keep the listener engaged. Gorgeous opener Wave Catalyst (High Tide) opens with burbling New Age synths before a surprisingly chunky rhythm clicks into place halfway through. Topped off with a guitar riff of melting tenderness, it offers a taste of everything that’s to come – unhurried house grooves with a bittersweet sheen.
The album continues in a similar vein, alternating between the swooning chill of Sunset Melody and the rhythmic acrobatics of Last Night In Paradise and Beach Runner. Between the sounds of birdsong and lapping waves, there’s scarcely a jagged edge to be found. The only moments when Isaak falters are when he lays it on too thick, as on the treacly Playstation mall music of Universe Surfin’. Everywhere else, his sound is perfectly judged – luxurious and sweet, not breaking any new ground, and not needing to.