Album Reviews

Seafood – Paper Crown King

(Cooking Vinyl) UK release date: 4 September 2006

seafood Yeah. That Seafood. Against all odds, it seems, this London quartet are still going, and this, Paper Crown King, is their fifth full studio album.

Even before we get to any analysis of the music, we should stand back and behold this band’s resilience. Where other groups would have simply just thrown the towel in or become disillusioned by the music industry to a mental health threatening extent, Seafood have stood strong, and quite amazingly, still exist.

You see, this is band who in their ten year career have almost re-defined back luck and general misfortune in rock ‘n’ roll. Singer David Line’s health problems (a re-occurring collapsed lung) thwarted any grand touring ambitions – and as such chances for increased popularity – during their last album, and unluckily for them, their music has never fitted into the fads or trends of the day, resulting in little or no media coverage.

A sound that has been based very much around US alt rock of the early ’90s (Pixies, Sonic Youth), it has just never been deemed as cutting edge enough, or now enough, to be salivated over. The net result is that, after all these years, they remain an underground phenomenon, lauded only by a handful of critics and their devoted fan base. Throw in the fact that two of their direct contemporaries, Muse and Snow Patrol, are headlining Wembley Arena this autumn, and it must really hurt.

Still, if this is what’s required for them to produce an LP the quality of Paper Crown King, the phrase ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ is proven to be true. It’s by mile their best work to date. Their previous four albums hinted at the great band they might become, but you feel this is what is commonly termed as realising one’s potential.

Gone are the predominantly folky leanings of last record As The Cry Flows, this is a return to their heady rockier days where loud, melodic choruses loomed large. Opener I Will Talk fits this bill, with a brooding and contemplative verse that gives way to a gargantuan hook seemingly built for the big stage. “I just want you, to realise what’s going on!” pleads Line, aptly.

Between The Noise Pt.II and Last Outpost are expansive, bold, all engulfing rockers; perfect representatives of this new confidence they seem to have acquired. Time And Tides and Disappear tread where they’ve gone before – songs which bolt directly from first to a much higher gear mid way through – and work as well as the formula’s ever done, whilst Little Pieces, delightfully, sees them rock out unequivocally in true old school fashion.

There are of course more reflective pieces – the acoustic Awkward Ghost pauses for thought, as Line delivers what is certainly up there with the year’s more beautiful pieces of music, whilst the country tinged title track shows a noteworthy way round a great, memorable melody. And in recent single Signal Sparks, they have a true anthem, in the vein of Naïve, Run, Yellow, Banquet, whatever – and the fact that it failed to register on the charts is, again, something of an injustice.

The LP as a whole is unlikely to fare much better, for reasons aforementioned, but this will ultimately be the loss of anyone not hearing it, for Paper Crown King is a gloriously defiant and truly formidable set of songs that packs a punch mightier than most rock albums this year.

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