The Speed of Sound in Seawater

First Contact

Written by: DR on 09/08/2013 00:17:17

The Speed of Sound in Seawater's previous EPs showed a young groupwith a remarkable amount of potential and a ridiculous amount of technical ability. Their rawness was to be expected, but the promise for them to become more than a niche band was definitely there. Now with the release of "First Contact", their debut full length album, this quartet from California have started to mature into the band we knew they could be, resulting in one of the most refreshing debut albums of the year so far.

The Speed of Sound in Seawater have always looked to combine the wonderfully intricate and complex world of math rock with infectious pop sensibilities, but their previous releases lacked the consistency required to hail them as anything more than 'promising'. There were great moments, but they were just that: moments. "First Contact", however, is tighter and free from the verbosity that formerly hindered their consistency. Where songs would previously wander and often end up lasting five minutes, the songs here, having had their proverbial fat trimmed, only last two or three minutes, with the whole album clocking in at an easily digestible 35 minutes. Tightening the song-writing and song lengths has helped make their music more dynamic and entirely more memorable.

There is still a dazzling amount of technical prowess - that much could never be in question - and each song brims with the kind of excitable creativity which one can only find endearing. Their intricate instrumentation and time signature changes remain, the production is their most slick to date, and the charm of the vocal and lyrical performances - covering stories from building a robot to replace your girlfriend, kids at a sleepover accidentally summoning a demon through a Ouija board, pirates washing up on an uncharted island, to the honest and introspective offerings about the fear of losing love - are so intoxicating that you'll begin to question their legality.

Opener "To Kelly Lee" is a great example of how far they have come as a band: not only is it impeccably paced as it introduces each element and idea, but the textures - from the acoustic to the electric, to the dual-vocal harmonies and the instrumental breaks - are the richest they've ever created, without ever slipping into over-indulgence. Impressively, each song shows a side to them that's either been refined or newly developed. For instance, the frolicking "Winter Solstice Baby" is unlike anything we've heard before with its infectious dance-y rhythms, "Anyanka" is vocalist Damien Verrett's most personal and affecting vocal performance to date, and "Lots of Love For Logan" features their most soothing soundscapes. Even in "The Macabray", a song about playing hide and seek with a ghoul only to realise that he's too ghoulish, The Speed of Sound in Seawater sound completely earnest and the arrangements are nothing short of gorgeous.

The most impressive aspect of "First Contact" is its cohesion. You could highlight any song, and it would have the familiar mark of The Speed of Sound in Seawater's extraordinary instrumental proficiency and a unique creativity about it that would still set it apart in the context of the album. The pure talent has always been there with them, but having become more assured in their song song-writing and more confident, charming and dynamic as a band, the result is a debut record consistent and effortlessly excellent - one that is sure to rank The Speed of Sound in Seawater as one of the most promising math rock bands around.


Download: To Kelly Lee, Anyanka, The Macabray
For The Fans of: This Town Needs Guns, Algernon Cadwallader, Look Mexico
Listen: Facebook

Release Date 09.08.2013

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