Seagull Strange is the new project from formerKing Louis (no, me neither) frontman DanTelling, and a neat little project it is too, full ofcatchy pop hooks, ethereal vocals, angular guitars anda mix of genres from 80s electronica to 70s prog folkto 90s art rock, with snippets of everyone fromFleetwood Mac to T-Rex to TheAuteurs thrown in for good measure.
Take track two, Girl With 7 Fingers, for example.Not only does it have a top name, it starts with afurious guitar solo which tails off into something alltogether more melodic and tuneful, to be followed upby Missing The Point’s angular art rock, somewherebetween OMD and Art Brut with a breathyvocal that adds a sense of mystery and depth to itschords.
Love’s Sick Disease is another killer title, thistime with a piano intro worthy of an independent moviesoundtrack to tickle our ears and convince us thatSeagull Strange have a got a bit more to offer thanthe average indie white boys with guitars plus girlwith a violin.
It’s not all muso worthiness though:singalonga La La La Leu, enjoy Bitten To The Quick’sfun whistley bits and on Jack Is Back they treadperilously close to poodle-perm air guitar selfindulgence, although this is also where they getclosest to sounding like The Auteurs – twodescriptions which shouldn’t work together but somehowdo.
After an Indian-influenced sitar-style intro, Loveand Death (notice a lyrical theme developing here?)switches genres again, this time to more 70s medievalmadrigal influenced folk, beautifully haunting andreminiscent of Procul Harem and other soft-focustail-end of the ’60s summery drifters.
The result is a mixed bag that holds together welland works as a good showcase to the six-piece band,who add classical trappings of violins and pianos tothe standard guitar and drums line-up. It’s one ofthose albums that instantly sounds familiar, so thatby the third or fourth listen you already recognisethe main hooks.
There’s no standout singles, however,and that probably is a weakness – it’s greatbackground music and a good album to listen to whileyou do the ironing, but to get themselves noticed theymay need something more instantly foot-tapping to grabthe attention of the fickle public.
Still, guitarist Millins has a ‘luxuriant handlebarmoustache’ apparently, which their growing fanbaselikes to imitate, so that might do the trick in themeantime and if it doesn’t, the model seagulls onsticks the crowd will be waving at their forthcominggigs will make a good photo opportunity.
This is theirfirst full-length release, following on from adownload-only EP, Think Happy Thoughts in 2004 and aphysical one, Animals, in 2005. In other words,they’ve had plenty of time to think about what they’redoing and where they want to be. The result isaccomplished, listenable and just the right side ofaverage. It’ll sound even better come the summer.