The memory is vivid: I was sitting in the greenroom of the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards “VMA Weekend” performance. Why Don’t We was recording an interview nearby, as they had just finished their opening set. Echosmith was whistling various vocal warmups, and Ocean Park Standoff was on stage.
Although I had never heard of Ocean Park Standoff before that night, their performance definitely impressed both me and the MTV-curated crowd. Once the show was finished, I followed the band on social media, researched them and their music style and, naturally, became a fan.
Ocean Park Standoff: Quick Facts
1. The American pop band is composed of lead vocalist Ethan Thompson, drummer Pete Nappy and keyboardist Samantha Ronson.
2. A day after they became a group, Thompson and Nappy noticed a standoff on Ocean Park Avenue while they were on their way to Ronson’s house, and the event inspired the group’s name.
3. In 2017, their single “Good News” charted for three weeks on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart and peaked at No. 22.
4. They scored a major record deal with Hollywood Records Inc., and are labelmates with musical legends like Demi Lovato, Zendaya and Queen.
5. Their most recent single, “Good Time,” was released last month, and an EP of the song’s remixes was released on first of this month — just in time to start catching summertime fever.
The Debut EP
In addition to their recent success with “Good Time,” Ocean Park Standoff’s debut EP likewise sets off all the jubilant sentiments necessary for a sensational summer.
The introductory track, “Lost Boys,” immediately places the listener into a disposition of daringness, destiny and free-spiritedness. As the audience listens, the upbeat tempos and pop vocals literally induce a mental visualization of cruising on a midsummer road trip with the windows down, sepia-toned aviators on, wind pushing through saltwater-tossed hair and best friends laughing alongside. Seriously, the song makes you feel like you are in a SoCal travel vlog.
“Let’s take the night off from caring ’bout tomorrow,” sings Thompson. “Let’s take our minds off the things we can’t control / Let’s take our clothes off and jump into the ocean / Don’t know where we’re goin‘, but it’s somewhere out there.”
So, what inevitably ensues after a lively, reckless summer night? A morning of nostalgia — and maybe a little regret, which is exactly what the next track, “Good News,” expresses. “Give it all or give me up / I won’t settle for enough / It’s the highs and it’s the lows we remember, ooh ooh,” Thompson sings in the bridge.
Its upbeat choruses and low, background piano-key plucking keep it appropriate for a carefree summer playlist, but the lyrics manage to provoke a heart-tugging desperation for the good news that every soul craves, whatever that may be.
Longing for — and lack of — good news often precedes a time of adolescent resentment, and the next two tracks on the five-song record, “We Do” and “Photos & Liquor,” portray this exact high-low cycle of young adulthood.
“I need some good news, baby / Feels like the world’s gone crazy / Give me some good news, baby / Give it to me, give it to me,” sings Thompson.
In contrast to the travel-vlog vibes of the last two tracks, “We Do” presents rebellion through a pop-rock type of sound, which seems out of place in the pop EP at first listen. However, the unexpected sound is fluid with the tone of the song, so it works. Thompson nearly screams out the chorus, as he describes the reason for partying as a coping mechanism: “Turn the bass loud / Till the bottles break now / We do / Yeah, we do it ’cause it feels good.”
“Photos & Liquor,” on the other hand, paints the picture of post-rebellion confusion and repercussions. “The flashbacks are mixed up with photos and liquor / Cloudin‘ my mind with what was real and what’s fiction,” sings Thompson.
The song’s mixture of synthesized production and drunken disorientation belongs on an old-school rhythm-and-blues mixtape, but the vintage vibes don’t divert from the relatability of the poetic lyricism. Listeners can nearly feel his hangover headache in the synth.
After a brief period of self-reflection, the confusion luckily converts to self-realization. “Tunnel Lights,” the last track on the EP, conveys the fortunate revitalization of the persona.
“Tunnel Lights” begins with a lengthy 44-second series of sunny, looping guitar chords. The summer road trip sentiments arise once again, seamlessly reconnecting the end of the track to the beginning, which evidently symbolizes the cyclical gaps between young carelessness and intrapersonal maturation.
Ocean Park Standoff is nothing short of a youthful MTKO, Coldplay or maybe even Maroon 5. Their relevant lyricism, summer synthetic vibes and artistic ability to pop the bubble that separates adolescents from adulthood prove their impeccable talent.