Thrill Jockey Records
The Sea And Cake
Owning your style can help bands stand out in the endless streams of music that we find ourselves in, but this can also be a double-edged sword. For The Sea And Cake, capturing a wispy and often seaside sound has made them a wondrous and particular band that you can really identify at any moment. While this makes their latest album feel most fresh in their subversions of this sound, they often keep their sound too inoffensive to really feel constantly engaging.
The fast rushing guitar lines the band pushes out really set the album off in a fury on “Cover The Mountain” as their equally spritely vocals keep things light. Though the track isn’t excatly breaking the mould in terms of writing, there’s such a palpable momentum you’ll be too swept up to care. This sense of urgency continues on the siren shrieks of “I Should Care” as a mix of growth and personal apathy colour a disaffected vocal. In all the confident delivery of the song, you really have to connect with the song’s energy however to not feel a little separated from the vocals as a listener.
Tones of the band’s jazzy tendencies comes through on “Any Day” as they craft some sunny and warm indie music inside a bouncy and swung rhythm. Here more than other tracks on the record, the weightless performance the band really manages so well actually feeds into the energy well instead of selling the band short. This isn’t the case however for “Occurs” where the whole vocal just feels a little too carefree to match the song’s emotional weight. It also carries a tender pain in its guitar playing, letting each little note ring out as an emulation of a sort of regret.
The Sea and Cake hit a heavier groove on “Starling,” as they seem to gain a sense of urgency back in their writing that just doesn’t come through on the early half of the album. While it seems strange to suggest, this makes it sound like the band really cares about what they’re saying on this song and makes you want to care more yourself. Having this shift gives the softer arrangements of “Paper Window” feel like a lovely contrast and one that opens up the album to a wider emotional palette. For their most jazz-heavy jam of the record, the track feels really exciting when it takes off into a flurry of woodwinds and harmonies.
“Day Moon” grinds out with a little punk energy that plays as a nice counterpoint to the inoffensive vocals. Here there’s a particularly heavy Drums sound to the song while the band manage a real depth in their writing that maintains their own voice in the comparable ideas. Their lightest beats kick out on the loungey energy of “Into Rain” as they ooze a cool sense of calm and embrace the ups and downs of life. Like other songs on the record however, it’s often too dry for its own good and only stands tall when The Sea and Cake takes risks in the writing.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear the band step up their attitude on “Circle” and bring a righteous movement to the beat to match their lyrics about staying headstrong. Though it’s a shame The Sea and Cake stay this consistent throughout the record, hearing them hit these highs are like gusts of fresh air. The punchy melodies and swing in the vocals of “These Falling Arms” is a fun and often exciting change of pace for the otherwise static album. While it takes the arrangements a long time to catch up, there’s a real serene beauty as the whole song becomes surrounded in a cosmic echo to take out the album with a feeling of magic.
Words by Owen Maxwell