November 5, 2012

The Sea And Cake: "Runner".

Chunky. Vibrant. Technological. Breezy.

Everything we've come to expect and love from The Sea and Cake.

Except...consistency. While all the sonic sensations that complete every one of TSAC's many albums since the early nineties are there in Runner - including the Brazilian, African, and krautrock influences as well as an ear to the cutting edge of production in John's masterful lead and a nostalgic nod to the vintage warmth of the modular synthesizer - in all their formulaic glory, the melodic weakness of the group's more recent output seems to be a shortcoming the band might have finally failed to fully conceal with this release.

While certain tracks absolutely shine, such as the summery "A Mere" and "Harbor Bridges" as well as the Oui throwback and title track "The Runner", others seem forced, rushed or even unfinished in their sparseness. "On and On" seems to live up to its name, never fully delivering the "hook" it seems to be building up to (although Archer's E-bow lead brings to mind the wonderful 1995 release The Biz) and the album's designated single "Harps" is simply skippable in its monotony and contrivance.

Despite some of these flaws, the album contains some of the most intriguing and aesthetically-pleasing artwork of any of the band's previous output, including the added bonus of the first few hundred copies of the album available on green vinyl and packaged in a quality, tip-on jacket with fully artworked inner sleeve. Check out the album's Thrill Jockey page for more details.

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