[sic] Magazine

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent

Some albums come with baggage and other just pitch up in nothing more than what they’re wearing. Sea When Absent is A Sunny Day In Glasgow’s third LP proper and it is a “conscious move” away from the ambient pop and super-reverb of their acclaimed back catalogue. It’s also the first time Ben Daniels and Josh Meakim have welcomed outside help, recording both in a studio and with a full band. Vocalists Anne Fredrickson and Jen Goma (fresh from her work on The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s ho-hum Days Of Abandon) have been pushed to the fore too, which, suffice it to say for now, gives the band a hugely different dynamic.

With so much up in the air, not to mention the band’s transcontinental set-up (Daniels still calls Sydney home while Meakim won’t be drawn from Philadelphia) and their reputation for kooky curveballs, Sea When Absent could and does sound like anything and everything. Due entirely to the girls being put centre stage, the delicate “Crushin’”, for example, sounds like a murky Dirty Projectors record with a case of the doldrums. Then there’s the downbeat chillwaver “Never Nothing (It’s Alright [It’s Ok])”, while the sweet “Double Dutch” buzzes with speaker-blown bass that brings Sleigh Bells to mind during its minute-long existence. Switching fidelities mid-track is a neat trick too, allowing “Oh, I’m A Wrecker (What to Say to Crazy People)” to blossom nicely and “Golden Waves” to flirt with the top 40 whilst keeping a respectable distance via sun-warped FX.

There’s a problem though for Sea When Absent also lacks both focus and any sense of urgency. As a result, the mouthful-of-a-single “In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry In The Tradition of Passing)” runs all its shoegaze and pop tracks simultaneously, creating a toothless blur. In turn, and despite its delusions of Cocteau Twins-style unintelligibility, “The Things They Do To Me” is rendered fairly anonymous for the same reasons. True, for each disappointment there’s a gem by way of compensation (“Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)” is a dizzying noise-pop treat), but as a whole Sea When Absent reeks of fragmented direction and, simply, of making it up as you go along.

Best track: “Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)”

~Sea When Absent is released August 11th 2014 via Lefse Records.~