Albums by The Sea And Cake can vary between blissed out experimental pop and self-indulgent noodling. ‘The Moonlight Butterfly’ is one of their most rewarding efforts and possibly the best since 2000’s glorious ‘Oui’ (bearing in mind this reviewer has yet to hear 2008’s ‘Car Alarm’).
‘Covers’ gets events off to a flier with a familiar mix of Teutonic rhythms, smooth synths and guitar jangle. Sam Prekop’s clipped sighs may be one of the reasons why some don’t appreciate The Sea And Cake but it can be a potent weapon. He is to the fore on the sun-kissed delight that is ‘Up On The North Shore’; a sure a sign as any that The Sea And Cake adore popular melody whilst ‘Monday’ is an exercise in languid loveliness.
In its compact thirty-two minute length, very few moments are wasted. The instrumental segment concluding ‘Lyric’ is warm and welcome, the title track offers primitive electronica but the true test is ‘Inn Keeping’. Crucially, within the track’s ten minutes of metronomic groove, the quartet manage to convey melancholic ache as well as tight musicianship.
There will still be critics who reckon that John McEntire best work is with Tortoise; the group he is most famous for being a part of. Yet whilst that band are one of the most influential acts in the post-rock movement, The Sea And Cake offer a laid-back, largely melodic alternative to jazzy experimentalism.