Oxford has a habit of producing forward thinking indie bands in recent times from Radiohead to Foals, The Sea The Sea are looking to join this list with the release their debut EP Sub Rosa.
Formed in the summer of 2012 the 5-piece released a series of 4 demo tracks before the end of the year, with The Winter Parade featuring on the ALBL June Playlist. Sub Rosa sees a marked progression from the promising demos to the polished sound they are set reveal.
EP opener These Shadows kicks things off with a blast of post-punk guitar and a prominent bass driven rhythm that contrasts vividly against the soaring melody of the chorus which features an unusual falsetto vocal that propels you to dizzy heights.
System Sleep sees The Sea The Sea take on the ballad in their own way, the electronica side of the band brought to the fore, layering the sound with dreamy synths, interspersing with sporadic guitar and led by an impressive vocal arrangement, building the track to a crescendo that set’s free a wonderful chiming guitar solo that becomes the highlight of the track.
For me What Came Before lacks the punch of the first two tracks, the opening two-thirds struggle to gather momentum and seems to be leading down a dead-end until the post-rock guitar takes over towards the end and offers a different sound scape which briefly lifts the track but can’t capture the heights of what has gone before.
Thankfully the balance is redressed with Anemone, evoking a beautifully dark and moody atmosphere with the sparse XX style sound complementing the haunting vocal superbly as the track builds and drops in dramatic style before all elements combine to carry you up and away.
1. These Shadows
2. System Sleep
3. What Came Before