Seabear – We Built A Fire
March 16, 2010
A steady flow of talented music has come from Iceland over the years. Bands like Sigur Ros and Amiina are a few we’d think of right away, but the alternative folk/pop band Seabear is a name that shouldn’t be left out. They are now releasing their sophomore album “We Built A Fire”. In a time where the genre is taking flight again (think: Beach House, Spoon, Peter, Björn & John, etc.) there is a lot of material to compare this album to. And Seabear can easily compete with the names I just mentioned.
The opener Lion Face Boy leads into the album well with the soulful vocals and the breezy, open feel. It has something comfortable about it. Fire Dies Down has a more haunting sound yet it also has something familiar about it. The musical arrangement of the song is very sound and the spheric and melodic nature of the song come through beautifully.
I’ll Build You A Fire is a little more uptempo and has a very rootsy, folky undertone. It comes off the previous song perfectly and has a sound that could actually fit on mainstream radio, without the song being too mainstream. Speaking of songs with potential mainstream success, Cold Summer is probably the best example of that on this album. It has a very round and melodic sound yet it saves the folky nature. It is a song that the listener can easily connect and identify with. Both the words and music speak volumes and that’s all a good song needs.
A more rootsy, even bluegrass-ish influence seeps into Wooden Teeth, which, to me, is one of the funner tracks on the album, with its more upbeat feel and tempo. One of the most impressive tracks on the album is Leafmask, it’s a song with hidden subtleties that you might not hear the first few listens, but the song has a beautiful arrangement and the vocals (also pay attention to the backing vocals) work out this song magically. Softship, also, is an impressive song. A little more uptempo and with a little more drive than the previous song, but the harmonizing vocals and the high level of musicality in this song lift it up to be one of the album’s highlights.
Initially I wasn’t too impressed with We Fell Off The Roof, but it proves to be a grower. I’m really warming up to the song, yet I think it still doesn’t rank among my favorites on the album. The essentially acoustic track has a somewhat intimate feel to it and the mid-song energy kick is pretty nice but it doesn’t seem to stand out as much to me as most of the other tracks on the album do.
Warm Blood is a song that has a lot of tension in it. The ‘tamed excitement’ charges this song and Seabear knows how to make it count every second of the way. The song has a more complex arrangement with a mix of piano, acoustic and electric instruments and while it may seem a little chaotic to some, it actually comes together really well. If there would be such a thing as eclectic, symphonic folk, this would fall into that category. In Winters Eyes has a nice catchy beat to it and the dreamy, folky vocals give the song a lot of character. Not the album’s most memorable song, but a very good song nonetheless.
Album closer Wolfboy is a little grittier and more uptempo and therefore quite a surprise. It seems a bit out of place compared with the rest of the album, but when taken a closer listen, the vocals still have that dreaminess in them and the arrangement might be a little less folky, but it contains the same interesting build up of tension that some of the other songs have. Also pay attention to the subtle piano parts in the song. Musically this is pretty damn impressive.
“We Built A Fire” is a very good album and marks another 2010 release that is very worthy of being noticed. Seabear is a band that makes music of a high quality. Their sophomore album may not be the best known release of 2010. It does, however, rank amongst the better releases of the year, at least so far.