Album Reviews

The Silver Seas – Chateau Revenge

(Lights) UK release date: 19 September 2011

The Silver Seas – Daniel Tashian, Jason Lehning and David Gehrke – have been doing this malarkey for quite some time. Since 2002, to be exact, when the Queen Mother popped her clogs, Avril Lavigne topped the charts with Sk8er Boi and Graham Coxon left Blur. Quite some time ago, that.

Time enough, in fact, for a name dispute to be by now nothing more than a vague memory: The Silver Seas were once The Bees, you see, shifting to their more evocative monicker following a dispute with their psychedelic Isle of Wight namesakes.

Now, almost a year after its US release, the third Silver Seas LP ascends for air in the UK. Singer Tashian believes it a “fuck of a lot better than most records” as follow-up to a predecessor, High Society, that “should have been bigger than it was”. Is such posturing justified?

In short, yes: Chateau Revenge is an enlivening-yet-considered jaunt into classic AOR territory frequently alluded to but rarely fully embodied in contemporary circles, Lehning’s less-is-more production imbibing the affair with the sort of timeless authenticity that more often than not evades mainstream posers and protagonists.

Okay, so the rather breathless comparisons to Fleetwood Mac may be somewhat hyperbolic, but they’re not a million miles from the mark, either. From breezy opener Another Bad Night’s Sleep, this is an album driven but not overshadowed by the Steely Dan back catalogue; the harmonic pop-rock goodness of peers Blitzen Trapper dressed up in FM-friendlier colours.

The Silver Seas share Trapper-style averions to overbearing pop peppiness: Jane wastes no time in folding bittersweet elements into an inherently vibrant mix, while The Best Things In Life and Somebody Said Your Name each channel the qualified assertiveness of Wilco‘s more vivacious numbers (think Any Major Dude Will Tell You) to tremendous effect. Lively without being twee.

Tashian’s tones form a golden thread through Chateau Revenge, never more so than on From My Windowsill, a loungey, orchestral ballad that simply oozes forth. Paired with the beautifully Rufus Wainwright-esque Kid, it is apparent that Silver Seas have several strings to their bow.

What If It Isn’t Out There?, indeed, sets the album’s high watermark with a change of tack: its sultry opening bass echoes Stars‘ fondest moments to the extent that one almost expects Amy Millan to chirp in suggestively before the track cruises effortlessly into harmonic My Morning Jacket territory and a neatly nested guitar solo. It’s captivating stuff.

In fact, Silver Seas appear to have stumbled across a winning formula. While Chateau Revenge doesn’t carry any revelations the first time around, repeat spins draw from it an engaging experience: Help Is On The Way initially labours to pull up trees – like Pilate‘s somewhat ill-conceived Ambulance – but in its proper context resonates long and full as an integral cog in the LP’s machine.

As the multi-talented Tashian confesses, he’s after a run of four or five good records that would establish The Silver Seas as an act not be ignored. On this showing – and indeed, the two showings past – his trio are on the right path.

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The Silver Seas – Chateau Revenge