The Private Sea – Prelude

Sometimes, less is better and sometimes, an EP is the best way to go. This is the case with The Private Sea’s debut album, Prelude. Although this is a crisp 33-minute, ten-song album, it feels jumbled and extensive—in terms of quality.

The first three songs do their job in hooking you in; they’re catchy, fast-paced, all around three minutes and there is some unmistakable ability here. “The Stars Say Hello” starts the album off with a meticulous guitar and precision drumming; the male and female singers are intertwined as one, into the song’s overall tone. The next song, “Judas Kisses,” features a chugging guitar reminiscent of Cobain’s days and the chord progression allows the song to breathe and come to life. Once you get to “We Were Only Looking at the Shadows of the Flame” you are left with a promising feeling. They follow the same technique that made the first two songs successful but yet, they don’t sound repetitive. The harmony is layered properly and efficiently, the drumming is energetic and active and it just kind of hangs back, underneath the mix.

Then there is an apparent shift in style that some may see as impressive, while others are wishing for more of the same—this reviewer is part of the latter category. After a trio of songs that are poppy, catchy, hook-laden and vivid, you get a batch of songs that are indolent, muddy, repetitive and droning. The band attempts a sort of shoegaze rock that doesn’t work too well in the overall scope of the album. “Arrow to the Sun” is redundant and prolonged with its warbling instrumentation and “Lucifer” is more of the same. The guitar and other instruments that breathed in the first three songs are suffocated and covered up with reverb — but I guess that’s what shoegaze is huh?

Then there are a few songs where they try to combine these two elements of shoegaze drone and pop/rock. “Running” ends up sounding a bit varied and although the bells add a nice change of pace, the female vocals sound hackneyed and insipid.

By the time that that the album ends, you are left with mixed feelings. And to top things off, the closer is one heck of a song! An acoustic guitar and quite, gentle vocals drive it towards a delightful, understated ending. This is the only song on the album that sounds like it, where the vocals are actually on top of the mix rather than hidden and it works very nicely. It’s gripping, melodic and impressive—a great closing song.

Ultimately, there is a lot to grow and learn from here—this isn’t to say that the quintet doesn’t have the makings of a solid band. A lot of acts that have already “made it” don’t even sound this good. There are a lot of ideas on here, some that work, some that don’t, and even though they have some things to work on, there is a lot to be proud of as well. (With a self-released album, this is as “indie” as it gets, so if you go to their website you can order this album.)