Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only

Written by: TL on 28/03/2014 17:17:30

Four years back, California quintet Seahaven emerged in the scene with their debut EP "Ghost" gathering comparisons to Brand New and Balance And Composure, and while the following year's full length "Winter Forever" took a while to get into, the album not only displayed tight, unique songwriting that has me returning to the album more and more, it was also among the first in a wave of grungy emo-punk that swept across the scene in recent years bearing names like Daylight, Captives, Sainthood Reps, Basement, Title Fight and Citizen. Singer Kyle Soto's peculiar vocal style has shown to be particularly sticky, so it serves to say that expectations for a follow-up have been considerable - And by extension to say that concerns about it were the same when we started hearing the first reports of "Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only".

To get straight to the point, "Reverie Lagoon" could hardly be any less like "Winter Forever" without sounding like the work of an entirely different band, and the way I see it, there are two ways you can review the seemingly ambitious fourteen track effort: You can either over-analyze and speculate in what admirable and bold thoughts of experimentation and exploration have lead Soto and his crew to this maddeningly tranquil place OR you could neglect such empty conjecture and just call it what it mostly sounds like; a frustratingly unresolved and uninspired waste of time.

Split across four acts of four, three, four and three tracks, "Reverie Lagoon" all but completely abandons all traces of the distorted guitars that buzzed and boomed across "Ghost" and roused and roared under the choruses on "Winter Forever". Instead the new album seems content to keep the listener at bay with the sense of delicately building towards something, yet without ever escalating past this stage. Clean guitars and subtle percussion caress each other endlessly without breaking things open, as exemplified by a song like "Silhouette (Latin Skin)" which chimes on tenderly towards a seeming conclusion at the four-and-a-half minute mark, only to drone on aimlessy for another minute before making way for "Wild West Selfishness", a song which lends lyrics to the album title and at least breaks out into a bit of instrumentality towards the end, though without impact worth speaking of, and especially the screams that are faded in the background seem completely pointless in this impotent capacity.

The following three numbers all mope about like Mineral b-sides on the cutting room floor, and truthfully, nothing really happens before "Flesh", which at track eight comes the closest to sounding like something from "Winter Forever", and while it is by now a relief to hear just this modest dash of energy, we're still clearly far from the prior record's standard. Instead, two songs later we find "Love To Burn", which is the closest thing "Reverie Lagoon" comes to something that sounds like a good song. The drums and bass promise more beneath Soto's down-played and drawn out verse vocals, and the song actually feels resolved when it finally gives room for a yearning string section to tip things off.

At track ten out of fourteen however, it is way too little, way too late, and it doesn't help that the final four tracks get right back to being all meandering and melodically underendowed. The band experiments with piano and strings across the length of "Reverie Lagoon", but even these attempts feel like doodles that never turned into anything substantial. I sense that the idea here is to allow Soto's lyricism room to carry the day, but it's no good when the instrumentals so rarely compel the listener to pay him any attention. And the thing is that I wouldn't be complaining about Seahaven changing if they'd at least bothered to change into something interesting - I wouldn't mind them toying around with songstructure if the results had justified it, but with Seahaven going almost all quiet on this album, it gets really hard to not notice how the simple, acoustic "Honey Bee" from the last album was still miles better than anything on here.

Thus we arrive at the only thing I'm interested in speculating in, after having spent frustrating play-through upon frustrating play-through on "Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only", and that is: What sort of record needs a disclaimer like that right there in its title? What exactly does Soto and his friends want to escape? Label obligations? That would explain why this sounds like such a minimal effort at least. Fan expectations? Well, regretably, they're sure to be low for an eventual follow-up after this. I otherwise love being the guy that gets the records nobody else does, but if you want a record to chill out to, I think there are piles of better ones, and if you want a Seahaven record, I think you're going to want to go back to "Winter Forever". Best consider this one a mulligan everybody.

Download: Love To Burn, Silhouette (Latin Skin), Flesh
For The Fans Of: The Republic Of Wolves, Shone

Release date 31.03.2014
Run For Cover Records

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