Album Reviews

Seachange – Lay Of The Land

(Matador) UK release date: 8 March 2004

Seachange - Lay Of The Land

What with British Sea Power, Oceansize and now Seachange it seems British rock music is going through a bit of a maritime obsession at the moment. Sadly, try as it might to match the merits of the other two, the debut album from Seachange only just gets its head out of the water.

It’s not for lack of effort or passion though. Whilst front man Dan Eastop may not have the strongest voice he does vary the style of his vocals, often recalling Clint Boon or even, dare I say it, Carter USM in some of his nuances. A further, English similarity lies in Seachange’s use of home folk-based material. This brings lyrics like “we could find a quiet place, out here where the soil is good” (Fog) or, more evocatively, “I’m heading out to Anglia, to find me a spell to keep this love alive” (Come On Sister).

The use of a violin adds to the folksy sound, and allowing it to open The Nightwatch with a two-minute introduction is a daring move – and given the stylistic lack of tuning one that could be described as either poignant or painful. This is followed in the song by a kind of ‘folk grunge’ episode, a heavy distortion smothering the vocal that remains unaltered and almost in the background – a strange balance. This twisted song, however, is strangely moving at its close.

Elsewhere there’s a statement of rock intent on SF, which unfortunately grates towards the end as Eastop hurls the “satellite come down” hook through the speakers with complete abandon. Forty Nights has some intriguing effects, a rushing bass figure offset by slow, cavernous drums, giving a strange clash of tempo. Also, this being more or less a prog style, News From Nowhere has the obligatory ‘missing beat’, while the opening Anglokana adopts the pattern of a suite, the atmospheric opening blown away by a heavier, coarse guitar interjection.

Production-wise it’s not subtle, and most of the songs end up drenched in a wave of distorted sound. While Seachange proclaim their Englishness close to their sleeve, it’s this lack of subtlety that ultimately lets them down. That, and the absence of a truly memorable hook.

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Seachange – Lay Of The Land