Review: Seeland – How To Live

Despte forming in 2004, Seeland took another five years to put out their first album. They are obviously on a hot streak of form now because the follow-up arrives just over a year later. Based around the talents from two former Bimingham post-rock acts (Tim Felton was in Broadcast whilst Billy Bainbridge served time in Plone), ‘How To Live’ further explores their world of retro-futurist pop.

The flaws of Seeland are that occasionally their ditties are a little too throwaway (‘Black Dot White Spider’ and ‘Local Park’ are cases in point) and it’s fairly obvious why Felton took the back seat on vocal duties whilst in Broadcast; his monotone often at odds with the dreamy instrumental passages. Yet most of the time, they overcome these failings. ‘Afterthoughts’ and ‘Armour’ visualise space pop in an alliance with folk music whilst ‘Cardinal’ and ‘Been So Long’ are wistful lullabies.

‘How To Live’ also contains two moments of leftfield pop excellence. ‘Awake In A Dream’ is one of those tracks which come from nowhere. A languid summer guitar is joined by some lovely layers of analog electronica and Felton’s soothing croon. It’s a hopeful song and one whose unusual melody is simply spine-tingling. Running close behind is ‘Circles’, which may have its roots in the glum rock sound of the early 1980s but its wordless Kraftwerk-like chorus provides the stark and brilliant counterpoint.

There’s an innocent quality to Seeland’s music which proves to be rather endearing. Then occasionally they show a moody depth beneath the sunny disposition and it is here when Seeland’s sonic explorations cross into classy songwriting status.

Web Sites:
Seeland MySpace
Lo Alternative Frequencies Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
The Superimposers, Broadcast, Stereolab

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