Label: Thrill Jockey
If you had never heard The Sea and Cake before and tried to envision their sound, you might get pretty close to what they actually sound like. Sweet and breezy is their operandi or at least it is with their 10th album release Runner. After 10 albums of moderate indie success, they are still progressing along on a trajectory that is actually quite impressive mainly because they have yet to break through with any kind of success, especially since they are a very accessible band. Accessible in the way that they are very easy to listen to but until now they have yet to capture mass attention with any of their songs, but there just may be one or two on this new record.
I mainly speak of the opening track “On and On”, because I think it’s fantastic indie rock song. It’s got a dreamy beat and coupled with Sam Prekop’s soothing vocals, it hits the mark that should gain them gain them a few more fans to go along with their already devoted base. “Harps” follows with a lighter electronic sounding song that’s more alike to what their previous albums have sounded like, but builds into another beautiful soothing track. They are two for two to start and it’s not like the album suffers after that, it just doesn’t get much more interesting than it does when it began. With “Skyscraper” they go for a more rock based number that is decent but only really stands out here because it’s the most rock based song in the middle of the album. “Harbor Bridges” marks the start of the last half of the album which can best be described as sleepy. The sea is calm, and the cake is low fat angel food. There’s nothing wrong with sleepy music but “New Patterns”, “Neighbours and Township”, and “Runner” all feel like variations on the same theme, when I wish that is was more variations on the first two tracks. Prekop’s vocals are already so calm and composed that Sea and Cake slow jams could knock out a room full of kids who broke into the sugar cabinet and found the Dr. Pepper stash.
I feel Sea and Cake deserve some accolades here because they’re kind of underdogs in the indie scene, and you really want them to break through with this new album, and like I said, they just might with “On and On”, or “Harps” but any new fans they gain from those tracks likely won’t stick around too long. The Sea and Cake for ten albums have an incredible amount of quality songs that have gone unnoticed. It may just be that Sea and Cake will just be one of those bands that will be forever be enjoyed in small doses.
– Michael Unger