Album Review: Sea Lions – “Strange Veins”

I heard about Sea Lions a few months ago via the members of Stokeswood. I really enjoyed their sound, but could never force myself to review or criticize their material. I’m in luck – my friend Moe who runs Latest Disgrace has already reviewed Sea Lions new record Strange Vein. You can read what he had to say below.

Sealions’ lush synth-pop is unapologetically retro, reaching back across a quarter century of music and pulling out more than a handful of New Order’s smoky dance floor atmospherics. And, really, it’s this sort of ’80s electro spirit that the Atlanta four-piece channels throughout their hypnotic debut, Strange Veins, an album full of hazy, infectious dance grooves that would rather float along celestially than thump insistently. But as a matter of substance, there is more going on here than mere nostalgia worship.

Songs like the billowing opener, “Bellwether,” and the elegant “Apparition,” seem initially locked into a bygone era, but as they progress and unfold, more contemporary elements—a buzzing smattering of beats here, an arresting dream-pop guitar line there—begin to spill out.

Other tracks such as “Indian Summer” and the “Islands” are more doggedly forward-thinking, employing familiar ’80s dance/disco trappings—snappy handclaps, swelling synths, vocals drenched in reverb—but coating them in a modern electro veneer. For indie rock aficionados, there are guitars here to be sure, and some even carry a distorted heft, but mostly they’re buried and subtle, used not as catalysts, but as so much gravel and sand in the foundation.

But what sticks out the most is just how artfully crafted these songs are, straddling the line between a traditional get-on-the-floor dance pop aesthetic and a more soft-edged experimental approach.

Despite its pastel-hued glow and deceptively upbeat demeanor, Sealions has delivered a late night soundtrack for sweaty, bleary-eyed souls in motion. There are a some hiccups and gaffes here and there and the production, however crisp, seems to whitewash a lot of the material, at times robbing the songs of their individuality.

Overall, Strange Veins is an impressive debut, one that generally skirts mindless pop escapism in favor of something more thoughtful and inventive.

Strange Veins Track List:
01. Bellwether
02. Golden
03. Hold On Hope
04. Spine
05. Indian Summer
06. Quarter Moon
07. Islands
08. Apparition
09. Crystal Ceiling

More Info:
Web: www.sealionsmusic.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/sealions
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SealionsATL

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