Album Review by Mark Bayross
Review of the bonus tracks by Annabel Bayross
Album Review by Mark Bayross
After Seafood’s astonishing single CLOAKING, I was really looking forward to hearing this, their sophomore full-length. Producer Eli Janney (of Girls Vs Boys) has coaxed a more fluid coherent sound out of the quartet and added a bass-heavy depth to the guitars.
It is ironic that, while their first album SURVIVING THE QUIET was produced by a Brit (Ex-Mojave 3 and Slowdive drummer Ian McCutcheon), it ended up sounding much closer to American alt.rock acts like Sonic Youth and Pavement. Now, with an American at the helm, Seafood have found a sound that echoes the quintessentially British introspection of My Bloody Valentine or the vertiginous guitars of My Vitriol.
Ranging from delicately melodic ballads (PLEASUREHEAD, WHAT MAY BE THE OLDEST, DESERT STRETCHED BEFORE THE SUN) to howling guitar dynamics (WESTERN BATTLE, SPLINTER, SIMILAR ASSASSINS), occasionally in the space of one song (the gentle beginnings of IN THIS LIGHT WILL YOU FIGHT ME? spectacularly end in a cacophony of raging guitars), WHEN DO WE START FIGHTING… doesn’t fail to deliver on six-string thrills.
Drummer Caroline Banks adds her voice to many of the songs (leading on the electronically-backed PEOPLE ARE UNDERESTIMATED), while Eli Janney’s production adds strings and keyboard washes ‘here and there’ to give Seafood a new-found gloss to their sound. Only David Line’s plaintive vocals sound flimsy on first hearing, but they soon become part of the aural scenery.
The one disappointment is that the album doesn’t revisit the extraordinary electronic experimentation of BOOGLE (on the flipside of the CLOAKING single) – they play it safe here. Still, that doesn’t stop this being a pretty decent effort.
Review of the bonus tracks on the re-released album by Annabel Bayross
Not so much a new mini-album as the accompaniment to Seafood’s last album WHEN DO WE START FIGHTING…, re-released with six new tracks in the form of original demos and live performances.
Aptly entitled COURSEWORK, these six tracks highlight the transition from a less sophisticated sound to a more developed performance. CLOAKING still remains the in-your-face angry rock but the vocals sound hollow and seem to retain a more raw resonance than the album’s version. IN THIS LIGHT WILL YOU FIGHT ME? is quite different from the released single. It has a more staccato feel but with a heavier louder approach. Although the sound is weighty the demo version is definitely less moving. The original SIMILAR ASSASSINS contains a different style of singing, it still remains a mellow song but the recorded version sounds more complete and harmonious.
You can hear how producer Eli Janney has helped to refine the sound into a more mature, subtle performance. Both PEOPLE ARE UNDERESTIMATED and WHAT MAY BE THE OLDEST originally began as acoustic songs but over time have been re-molded into a fuller, more rounded sound. The latter acoustic song was remodeled completely and is now a hauntingly pretty duet with Mary Lorson.
The band believes that their energetic rendition of PORCHLIGHT on COURSEWORK is actually an improvement on the recorded piece. Lead vocalist David Line says “the original version was recorded when we couldn’t actually play that well, so we decided to do a version for Radio 1 that represented more how we play it live”. By including this version, you can hear just how much Seafood are concerned with improving and fine-tuning the execution of their performance.
Some people may wonder why they have bothered to add this to their album – I think it makes a fascinating insight into how far they’ve come.