The modest biography on Seeland’s website tells you all you need to know about them. Seemingly taking their name from a song by NEU!, the band are direct descendents of Broadcast and Plone, containing one former member of each in Tim Felton and Billy Bainbridge.
Writing songs together, they have made themselves known quietly but effectively, with last year’s debut album Tomorrow Today containing some enchanting songs that also hinted at dreamy, shoegaze pop around the edges, while occasionally employing a more driving bass. With a second album quickly in the bag, it’s clear the duo are enjoying the fruits of a particularly creative partnership.
How to Live picks up where that record left off, with the heavily Krautrock-influenced Black Dot White Spider setting an affirmative tone. It sets a precedent that the album doesn’t quite follow, but that isn’t a bad thing – it just chooses to drift off into some beautifully crafted songs.
The vocals aren’t the most expressive, but somehow complement the often glittering accompaniment, and contribute to the dream-like atmosphere. Local Park is appropriately breezy, with its second verse observation that “I’m feeling much better, in spite of the weather, there’s nothing I can’t do”. It’s a kind of plugged-in Cat Stevens, sounding more than a little Matthew And Son, but offers an intimate comfort as it does so.
Contrasting nicely with this is the quietly majestic Cardinal, subtly painting pictures and impressions as part of its dreamy reverie. Again the vocal doesn’t stand out in any way, but softly complements the bright treble and thoughtful strings, using the �less is more’ trick to good effect, while the electronic touches around the edges ensure the songs could function as instrumentals on their own.
The beats are lightly brushed, with some of the sounds giving away the duo’s past, sounding like outtakes from a Stereolab album or a Broadcast single.
Throughout the music is highly attractive, understated but frequently magical. A record for a late summer afternoon, or an early winter’s night perhaps, How To Live is a piece of work that reveals its treasures subtly and effectively, rewarding investment in kind. With songs you can relate to, Seeland prove to be a duo well worth spending time with.