Like much of the Red House Painters' work, OCEAN BEACH is marked by an overriding sense of despair, but Mark Kozelek, the Painters' founder and guiding force, has a way of transforming his melancholia into seduction. The record begins on the lightest of notes with "Cabezon," a languid instrumental that would sound appropriate as the opening theme for a kids' TV show. The spare, tender "Summer Dress" follows, with Kozelek's resonant voice, accompanied only by guitar and violin, conveying an almost palpable sense of longing.An electric guitar finally kicks in on "San Geronimo," a moody, minor key meditation on the love and loss of both a person and a place. Marrying a simple riff with a precise and crafty arrangement, this is perhaps the record's most powerful track. After the stark "Shadows," the pastoral vibe that begins the record returns on "Over My Head," a light acoustic workout that gradually breaks up in an improvised ending. Things get a bit murky toward the end, but Kozelek's voice, in all its velvety fragility, cuts through the fog. "Drop," the final song, is Kozelek at his most confessional, and definitely not a closing theme for a kids' TV show.