eMusic Review 0
Chicago's Sea And Cake have clocked in 15 years and seven previous albums of jazz and world-inflected art-pop — the kind of muso-indie, Smiths-influenced thing that has only found a (relatively) mainstream American audience recently with the emergence of Vampire Weekend. But the band's eighth album is the least self-consciously clever of their career, and is, by some distance, their best.
The rhythm section of legendary Tortoise leader John McEntire and bassist (and talented painter) Eric Claridge is one of Sea and Cake's biggest strengths, and on Car Alarm they weave subtle and imaginative patterns around Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt's sweet melodies and arty jangles, driving when necessary, skipping lightly when required. By the time you've been charmed by the album's best moments — the edgy "New Schools," the blissful "Window Sills," the gently surging alt-pop of opener "Aerial" — you'll be amazed at just how much loveliness they can still mine from primary-color guitar-pop. Steel drums and twinkling synths provide textural variety, and the superb "Down in the City" even finds a way to be oddly bluesy.
As the variety might suggest, Car Alarm is a broader album than we are used to from Sea and Cake,… read more »