The Silver Seas
OK, it only took a few seconds into the opening cut of Silver Seas’ new album Chateau Revenge! to fall for this retro-pop band’s infectious harmonies and pop arrangements that evoke the blue-eyed soul of early Hall and Oates and Todd Rundgren.
“Another Bad Night’s Sleep” is immediately infectious, the lyrics self-deprecating (“Couldn’t drink enough to make the world disappear”).
Yes, they’re from Nashville. Yes, they’re a quartet with guitars, bass, drums, and assorted bluegrass instruments (banjos and mandolins that blend into Bread-like string arrangements and pedal steel guitar a la Maria Muldaur). Just listen to the seventh cut, “From My Windowsill.” Or dig the sly references to “the magic chords of ELO” on “What’s the Drawback?” And “Candy” is either an upbeat Barry Manilow (Mandy on uppers?) or a rare Shaun Cassidy b-side.
And I don’t mean any of that in a bad way. The way these guys invent guilt-free hooks with a wink and a nod to some of the cheesiest cliches of the 1970s is, well, a guilty pleasure. Because the lyrics are anything but saccharine sweet. More like vinegar poured into the sugar bowl. This band is smart, and Daniel Tashian is one crafty songwriter.
No wonder Silver Seas was voted one of the best indie bands without a record label a few years ago, after the 2007 release of their critically acclaimed debut High Society (sort of — they had recorded as The Bees but had to change their name due to a legal dispute with the British band “A Band of Bees” which was known as The Bees).
Listen to the lyrics of “What If It Isn’t Out There?” The singer is talking to an ex-girlfriend who decides to move to London and starts a rock band. “I hope you see your name in lights, I wouldn’t be surprised/ But I know it’s hard to find the definition of love,” he sings just as the band breaks into the Bacharach-like chorus.
“Help is on the Way” continues to quote 1970s pop with a reverb-saturated guitar riff right out of a Sergio Leone film. There are also some nicer, quieter moments, like “Jane” and the album closer “Kid,” with its killer couplet, “The prom was a disaster/ now their laughter still echoes in your mind./ You showed up in the morning,/ without warning you became that jealous guy.” And the following line about wanting to stay home or die, well, could he be trying to comfort Morrissey? For a real grin, wait for the cheesy closeout. You will love it. You will think you flashed back to the ’70s in a souped-up Camaro.
And as soon as I finish this review, I am going to click back to the first track of this album and listen to it all over again, just for pleasure.
The Silver Seas: www.thesilverseas.net