Dreampop is risky business. You could record your album in a garage and hope it works, your music could get boring after 5 songs into your album, you could even shower your project with so much reverb it’d give the listener a headache. But mix solitary dreampop with post punk, along with influences of lucid dreaming, Roald Dahl, and a band who made possibly the most heart wrenching concept album of all time; well you’re onto something there, aren’t you?
I honestly can’t remember the last time the opening track of a project got me as hooked as The Sea The Sea’s has. The sweet leads and (furious/lonely/depressing/everything I could ever hope for in a voice) baritone are pinnacle highlights for Sub Rosa. But these vital elements compliment each other throughout the whole EP. Don’t ever think The Sea The Sea only pull off their shit for a single or two, oh no…they know what they’re doing. They know exactly what they’re doing. ‘These Shadows’ boasts relentless amounts of jangle-pop, a gorgeous melody…it’s a wonder why Captured Tracks haven’t got their hands on these guys yet. Layered, well planned, well played, with the cleanest production holding hands with that dirty bass in the verse – a brilliant start.
Track 2 ‘System Sleep‘ is also pretty special. The vocalist completely submits to confession after an emotional enough verse to belt out “and this is my soul shaking.” Repeated over and over again. Reminiscent of The XX all over the place, a bit of folk music here and there; despite the change in pace to the previous song it’s still quite lovely. The (mostly) inevitable decline of the EP comes at the next track. There just seems to be a loss in spark on ‘What Came Before’. The majority of the song is quite cheesy, the chorus doesn’t shout anything interesting, in fact I’d go as far as saying it sounds like a hymn. That’s not to say there aren’t great parts to this song, though. The actual climax of the song does drive it somewhat forward, and the verse is awfully catchy.
Sub Rosa ends with the fitting name of ‘Anemone’. Starting soft and quiet, and ending louder, harder, angrier; reminds me of Interpol’s The New. Contrary to The New though, ‘Anemone’ has no awe inspiring bass line, in fact a very minimal bassline. And with a song that should create a thunderous end to such a stellar EP, ‘Anemone’ feels somewhat half baked without the noticeable bass and deep element to the song. The closer is built up by light cymbal crashes, solos, and reverb that makes me shiver. Vocalist whispers about the oddness and eventual explosive end to relationships, “at least if we were still passionate, we could be deafened by heartbeats”, which then actually leads to him replicating that same explosive end with his voice. Bitter and emotional, but somewhat truthful.
If I had any more negative points to say about The Sea The Sea’s Sub Rosa, it’d only be the slightly off pitch vocals, and the strange falsetto vocals in between the thunderous baritone. But really, The Sea The Sea have made something very special here indeed. The production is so clean and these lads know what they’re doing to point. Almost miraculously, reverb isn’t overused but neither does it sound out of place. They’re tight, succinct, clever, and just really fucking emotional. The mood is melancholy, the singing is melancholy, the lyrics are melancholy, but if melancholy sounds this beautiful, give it to me everyday.
LISTEN FOLLOW LIKE
Words by Saagar Kaushik