Review: The Sea and Cake – Runner
Published on August 30th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
What more is there to say about The Sea and Cake’s tenth studio album Runner than that it is simply another installation of the Chicago four-piece doing what they’re very good at? There may be a premium on surprises here but Rocksucker is okay with that: niche-carving can be aggravating in the wrong hands, but The Sea and Cake still glow with a warm, glowing, warming glow that newcomers remain advised to jump on and/or into.
“On and On” is a splendid opener, classic Sea and Cake: it’s breathy, dreamy, driving and shimmering, nostalgic in feel yet sufficiently fuzzy and energetic to accumulate illumination with its gently rocking trajectory. Sam Prekop’s vocal delivery is as ever sedated enough to almost discount his lyrics – and therefore their associations – from focus at times, but he ain’t mumbling so they’re there if you want ’em. Rocksucker tends to get a little too lulled to notice, and we’re certainly not complaining.
The ensuing “Harps” is a surprising choice of single owing to its good-natured subtlety in the wake of the relatively emphatic opening gambit of “On and On”, while the quizzical meandering of “A Mere” works well in tandem with “The Invitation”‘s two minutes of synth pad reverence leading into a pleasingly shuffling little groove.
“Skyscraper” is another subtle stormer, a bit of a gem in fact, and elsewhere we are treated to the serene , finger-picked beauty of “Harbor Bridges”, the ultra-smooth-in-a-way-that’s-just-on-the-right-side-of-lovely “New Patterns”, and the gorgeous, travelling “Neighbors and Township” flaunts this group of musicians’ ace ability to creep ever so slightly into the realms of dissonance and atonality, just enough to create a really lovely shade against the bright beams of light they otherwise forge wherever they go, like Bugs Bunny’s burrow but all lovely and musical. Finally, the seductive, nocturnal psych-soundtrack of the title track brings the curtain down on a familiar yet rewarding sonic experience, one which Rocksucker has seen fit to return to with telling regularity over the last week or so.
Fans of erstwhile Sea and Cake split-single buddies Broken Social Scene, and of The Dismemberment Plan’s last album Changes, should get straight on this. As recommendations go this may seem a little specific, but then so are The Sea and Cake; just think of them as Stereolab’s more grounded cousins, and celebrate them for the alluring sounds they continue to make.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!