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The Sea & I - The Sea & I EP (Review)

The Sea & I, EP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THERE looks to be a promising new act in The Sea & I based on their appealing new self-titled EP.

An ever changing phalanx of musicians, forming around the central core of Bernie, Naomi, Paul and Irwin, The Sea & I pride themselves on their musical ability, augmenting their sound with anything from brass, to strings to choirs depending on availability, venue size and the mood of the moment.

They don’t even play gigs in the usual sense, instead opting to reinterpret songs they’ve recorded according to where they are and who they have with them. Their last performance, for example, was in St. Leonard’s Church in East London and featured a 50-piece choir. Their next show will be at London’s Old St Pancras Church and will feature a brass band and the London Contemporary Voices Choir.

In EP form, their sound is [obviously] more structured but no less intriguing. The EP opens with an instrumental Building A Building] that sounds cinematic and classic. It’s brief. But it sets the scene nicely.

First track proper Improve then showcases why they continue to grow in appeal with each new live performance. Built around bustling piano arrangements and slick, layered vocals (some of which hit falsetto highs), this contains traces of bands like Keane in the way that it slow-builds to epic status, yet remains rife in radio friendly melody. It’s a rousing, lively track that rightly forms the focal point of the EP and which looks certain to win them even more friends.

Balloon has a lovely whimsical quality about it. A humming backdrop that’s augmented by beautiful piano arrangements and tingling electronics eventually blossoms into something that’s once again both cinematic and epic. The strings are great, especially once the lyrics start to reassure the listener that “you belong”. If the first track had a Keane-like feel, this contains elements of Sigur Ros, MGMT and The Flaming Lips.

It’s this chameleon like ability to keep surprising with each song that makes them all the more notable. And while some songs admittedly take more getting used to, there’s always something interesting going on. Broken begins as though recorded by a church choir group on a Sunday morning, before ushering in a lively string arrangement and sounding like a happy-go-lucky Badly Drawn Boy composition. It also explodes into life once the lyric “send me on my way hits” and has a giddy, care-free quality about it that’s endearing.

Mutineer recalls an intoxicating tale of rebellion around swirling piano arrangements and – initially – hushed vocals that, again, build in satisfying fashion to something quite epic. And Building A Building rounds things off with the type of alt-pop opus that an artist like Rufus Wainwright might like to lay claim to.

There’s never a dull or similar moment when listening to The Sea & I, which makes this six-track EP a constant delight.

Watch the video for Improve:

Download picks: Improve, Balloon, Mutineer

Track listing:

  1. Building A Building (Instrumental)
  2. Improve
  3. Balloon
  4. Broken
  5. Mutineer
  6. Building A Building