As hushed and diminutive as their music is, so has been the tone of the announcements of The Sea and Cake’s new record. A brief note indicating that Brian Wilson’s flutist would be playing in the record, and that this is their first one in six years. Up until six years ago, their releases had been increasing in frequency and, unfortunately, decreasing in quality – so perhaps slowing things down would reverse the pattern.
The musical form the historic Chicago band indulges in is easy-listening and casual aesthetics, so it can be easy to dismiss them as dull. Especially as nowadays, technique itself might become the sole justification for releasing an album. Two features that do not go very well with trying to keep sounding fresh and “young”, in the artistic sense.
Any Day accomplishes, primarily, exactly this: sounding young and fresh after almost twenty-five years and ten albums. It is comforting that The Sea and Cake, despite being inspirational for a lot of bands (now-celebrated American Football, new and old Midwest emo, for example), remain something askew compared to the independent music world.
When The Sea And Cake no longer play, all these jazz chords, gentle acoustic-electric strumming, the steady, unyielding and dry-sounding rhythm section, Sam Prekop’s velvety vocals, will be irreplaceable. Any Day is a testimony to this simple truth, as sound and songwriting seem particularly focused, ranging from uptempo narratives like ‘Day Moon’ to their characteristic, blissfully elegant ballads (‘These Falling Arms’).
The general sound and tone is reminiscent of the band’s more polished, jazzy material (masterpiece Oui comes to mind), but songs never lack the dynamism and vitality of inspiration, with clearly defined guitar riffs and melodies (the title track, ‘I Should Care’). All in all an incredible comeback for The Sea And Cake: do not miss them live.
Words: Lorenzo Righetto