Seafood – Surviving the Quiet

Surviving the Quiet

It’s sort of funny how many music classifications come from laziness. For instance, for every single time I’ve had that long winded-discussion about what is and isn’t “punk,” I’ve nonchalantly labeled some piss-poor radio song “punk” simply because I’m too apathetic to have the aforementioned discussion. Consequently, it’s also interesting to see what connotations develop regarding certain words. Again, let’s use punk as an example. When someone says to me “punk,” I always manage to picture Green Day and NOFX, not Sonic Youth and Fugazi, even though I know the difference. And when the word “indie” is mentioned, images of Pavement and Archers of Loaf seem to come to mind, even though that word could possibly conjure thousands of different thoughts.

So, all that being said, let me casually label Seafood, a four-piece from England, an indie band. This somewhat vague categorizing has more to do with a lack innovative descriptions than a half-assed attempt to confuse you, loyal record buyer. You see, the problem with Seafood is that they are one of those bands (increasingly becoming more common) that knowingly or not, walk that hazy line between “indie” and “rock.” The distinction is so hard to make because there never really was one in the first place. As bands increasingly embrace the pop-rock style so popular right, the distinction between your boring radio band and a possibly interesting bunch of indie rockers is the difference between the recording technology. More than a couple of indie rock’s sons (notably 764-Hero and the Get Up Kids) write songs similar in structure and tone to much of what’s on the radio. So what’s the difference?

Well, the difference is charm. 764-Hero may write in the same confines as Fuel, but no one will ever accuse Fuel of being charming. And charm, fortunately enough, is something Seafood have in spades. Right from the catchy blur of “Easy Path,” Seafood make it quite apparent that while they aren’t breaking any new ground, they’re gonna do things their own way. The dissonant chords of “Belt” follow the first track, and the sing-songy “This is not an Exit” soon follow. Mixing it up are the country twang of “Dear Leap the Ride,” the quaint ballad “Beware Design,” and the sonic sizzle of “Guntrip.”

The standouts, however, come when the band messes with their song structures a bit. “Led by Bison,” despite the seemingly lame title, is one of the album’s most heartfelt songs. The tempo slows, and the song’s guitars slide along until the stopgap chorus, where big, full, distorted chords ring behind singer David Line’s melodic hook. “Toggle” is another highlight, quiet whisper of the song until the crescendo hits, and the intensity increases. “Folksong Crisis” has more of a violent feel, but as Line’s voice breaks and snarls through the chorus (“I’ve got a system here!”), you’ll beg for more.

In the end, Seafood can place its name beside a few indie stalwarts who eschew sonic experimentation in favor of solid, unspectacular songwriting. The production on this album, as well as its critical acclaim overseas, probably bar it from the “lo-fi” category, but such classifications are hardly necessary. Seafood are a rock band. An indie rock band. And say what you want, but there’s something rather charming about that.