Sunday, 23 September 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #324 - The Sea And Cake, "Runner"

There is a Chicago sound, isn't there? Maybe the rumbling trains full of cattle one way and sausages the other has inspired this kind of motorik indie. It lurks beneath the surface of Tortoise and Shellac. There is your John McEntire involved, of course. It's unassuming in the way you might expect Birmingham indie to sound, from one Second City to another. (What does Birmingham indie sound like? I want to say Broadcast, but I think that's Supersonic Festival influence somehow.) Maybe where they are they can hear everything...

"A Mere" picks its way delicately between classy basslines and a hint of Sheryl Crowe. It's indie like Zach Braff would make a movie around; a sigh runs through it. "The Invitations" has a fried electronic tone running underneath, sweet and salty like the sea and cake, before some bass music comes in and things kick on into space...

"New Patterns" sounds just like that. It chugs in a familiar fashion, but somehow sounds like a remix of Eighties sounds, something about that sparkling drone in the background. A bit like The Stranglers' Always The Sun. It sounds delightfully bright and trebly on top of the steady bass. "Neighbors And Township" sounds like a remix of Joy Division's She's Lost Control at first - all cramped guitar and crisp snare attacks - before it flattens out into something more Midwestern and sure of itself.

This is a mixed book of styles like you might expect from a band that has rounded a few blocks in its time. My heart doesn't soar at any point, which may be a telling indictment of my sociopathic tendencies. But it is solid work and could support several repeat listens and planted seeds would throw some powerful fronds.

I'm not sure what to make of this stable sound though. Human emotion is represented by the vocals which are pitched at a kind of cute sigh, which fits but doesn't connect. I don't catch many lyrics either. So I'm not sure where I place myself, as the listening human, as the closing track "The Runner" opens with a lazy shimmer.

Rating: Cute Sigh out of Motorik Midwest

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