Lee Chameleon and Markus Willbee were once the rhythm section for the Chicago psychedelic rock/electronic outfit La Makita Soma. Thank goodness they stepped out of the shadows for ‘North Carolina’ is a real summer breeze of a record which makes you wonder why they hid their talents away for so long.
The summery ‘Day Of Sunshine’ and ‘Love’s Not Worth It’ are deceptively light and insouciant but in truth they only tell half the story. ‘Snowtrain’ is a spine-tingling journey through the worlds of ambient and folk; its beautifully strummed guitars and sighed harmonies slowly growing in urgency. The verses to ‘Little Palomino’ are The Sea And Cake at their most gentle but then the duo unleash a nagging chorus that is part grunge, part 70’s AOR but wholly addictive. Equally ace is ‘Throwing Stones At Manhattan’, where the quietly seductive verses give way to a brilliant but acerbic pay-off, eventually eclipsed by a gorgeous swell of guitar effects.
By modernising their folk harmonies with subtle electronica, Lee & Willbee have perfected a sound which has its roots in traditonal songwriting but always has one eye on the future. Half of the songs here are amongst the best I’ve heard this year, the rest is merely good.
The Sea And Cake, Royce