“Sea” is a funny word. This is especially true in the case of us Americans, who, as far as I know, don’t have access to anything officially classified as a “sea” anywhere on our contiguous landscape. The very mention of the term, too, seems to imply something grandiose and dramatic, such as mentions made thereto by Modest Mouse, The Thermals and LIVE, each of whom made light of it in potentially fatal fashion, apart from inquiring, say, “Hey, ya wanna go hang out in the sea?”
So Sea Power, now, hailing from Reading and originally British Sea Power, chime back in with some indie rock that’s certainly making no attempt at the macho, humorous or radio-anthem-brandishing. It’s like something that’s similarly distant and obscure, in other words, in a sense. Yan Scott Wilkinson’s vocals cloak the mix here more like tonal syrup or an aerating additive than they do, like, say, a “dude,” for lack of a better term. The mission statement, here, in other words, is decidedly indie, and whatever it is that propels these blokes to get up and pump out this Arcade-Fire-informed indie rock in the year 2022, it certainly is refreshing and also redolent of the potential for some relaxed, intellectually informed nights that might call to mind a time when The Daily Show ruled all of our lives. Sea Power, in other words, get up and channel inspiration as if we’re all going to go out and buy the CD when we see Pitchfork’s review of their album, which, perhaps, it’s a possibility that some people in Britain still do. It would, though, seem about as contemporary as corduroy shorts, as it were.
But it’s funny to me how the output of some bands can just seem preternaturally ambient, like a shy person who lives his whole life being functional and never getting across any distinct discourse. “Two Fingers” burps in with some slightly emboldened drums and about two odd seconds of guitar feedback before settling back into this band’s comfortable m.o. of midtempo, and mid-energy, indie rock. It’s music for getting lost in your thoughts in a coffee shop to. One reference point would be The National but Matt Berninger and company just seem infinitely more given to entertainingly nihilistic or twisted humanistic quips. The most of an impression Wilkinson’s lyrics make here is the ephemeral quality in his vocals of purpose, ranging down to mechanical doldrums, at times.
Still, this stuff is listenable. There’s no doubt about that. Opener “Scaring at the Sky” tiptoes along with pretty surreal and expedited sheen, almost like a person who’s being sucked up into the sky against his or her will and dispatching urgently regarding this exact experience. A similarly spooky, otherworldly theme seems to pervade “Doppleganger” with its initial command of “Go into the center of the blinding light / Into the center of the city tonight”. A light sprinkling of bass reverb, in addition, gives this track some much-needed freshness in the production department. In the meantime, Yan Scott Wilkinson seems so busied and amused within this fictional world of false images and gentle indie rock poignancy that it’s hard to fault this whole operation for tryin’.
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