Reviews:: Seabear The Ghost the Carried Us Away

Well, it’s official. Work is shipping me to London and Paris for a fortnight in hotels, dinners alone and hopefully a lower-tier Premiership match (go Queens Park Rangers). Obviously, this begs the question – is Ack an international spy or just some lowly courseware developer for a tech company. You can make assumptions, but you can never be sure. PS – I’m right behind you.

To get in the mood of the trip I’m going to do some posts about some bands from across one or many oceans. First stop – Iceland. Admittedly, a few years ago the only band I knew from the land even more up north was Sigur Ros. Then one of the first herohill readers ever got me hooked on another Icelander named Mugison. Since that time, I’ve found that the island seems to be littered with talented artists who are able to create melodic, pop music that rely on sparse arrangements, beautiful vocals and sound effects that make me smile.

Seabear is all of these things and more. Before the disc even finished, I was smitten. I guess they had me at halló. Most of the tracks use only warm acoustic and a smattering of instruments (piano, xylophones, strings, and interesting samples) but never do the songs feel empty. Instead, they float like a whimsical dream.

The album opens with an instrumental piano riff that is funked up with some xylophone and drums, but as the harmonica starts on Cat Piano you start to see the real Seabear. The acoustic is strummed gently, almost embarrassed to disturb the other instruments. The piano and xylophone are simple, but together they build a nice collage of sounds that seem to always match Sindrii’s hushed vocals perfectly. The title of the record actually describes the sound of the band better than I ever could.

If the songs are a canvas, the band adds sounds stroke by stroke, taking the time to step back and examine the masterpiece. No sound seems rushed or out of place. The band varies its tempos well, and adds subtle touches to finish the mixes – like the beautiful female harmonies on Libraries or the horns on Owl Walz or the ever-present fiddle on Arms.

As is the case for a lot of these kinds of records, it plays almost like a soundtrack to a quirky, indie film. At times, you can’t help but compare the effort to Badly Drawn Boy’s collection of songs for About a Boy, but this record is much more cohesive and as a result, more accessible and enjoyable.

This record is one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve received in a long time. Pick it up, and then you can hop over to Tom Lab and grab the split 7” with Grizzly Bear.

MP3:: I Sing I Swim
Video :: Singing Arc (live)

Web site :: label

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