Sea and Cake

The Sea and Cake (Thrill Jockey í94) Rating: A-
Consisting of former Shrimp Boat alumni Sam Prekop (guitar, vocals) and Eric Claridge (bass), guitarist Archer Prewitt of the Cocktails, and drummer (and producer extraordinaire) John McEntyre of Tortoise, the Sea and Cake make up a snazzy little indie supergroup. Aided by the production hand of former Shrimp Boat drummer Brad Wood (Liz Phair), their debut album is a seductive triumph, with understated guitars and nimble Caribbean-flavored rhythms carrying mellow, swinging grooves. Singer Sam Prekop alternately mumbles and croons in an engaging soul-influenced falsetto, but it's the subtle, jazzy textures of these melodic tunes that will make your head bop and your hips sway. "Jacking The Ball" begins the album with a melodic, bass-led melody and a catchy chorus, while the band's subtle interplay accentuates their loose, confident grooves. The quality continues on "Polio," but "Bring My Car I Feel To Smash It" shows off the band's weakness in that it's a breezy, easy going pop song, but it also comes and goes without leaving much of an impression beyond the absurdity of its title. I better remember the low-key chants of "Bombay" and the plodding tempo of "Lost In Autumn," but neither is a standout, though swinging highlights such as "Flat Lay The Water" and "Choice Blanket" make up for any lulls, as the band are at their best when the tempos are brisk and the melodies light and airy. Elsewhere, "Culabra Cut" is a cool, jazzy instrumental, and "Showboat Angel" brings Pavement to mind, while "So Long To The Captain" features stuttered funk rhythms and impressive guitar playing from Prewitt. Still, it's an overall mood rather than individual songs that makes this album so appealing. Once purchased, this will likely be an album that's in heavy rotation, as itís sure to please all manner of sophisticated tastes, whether as pleasant background music or while loosening cocktail party limbs. Note: The band has since had an admirably consistent and prolific solo career, but this first album is still the one I return to most often. Note #2: Prekop and Prewitt have maintained simultaneous solo careers that are also well worth getting to know.

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