The Sea and Cake One Bedroom

[Thrill Jockey; 2003]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: post-rock, indie rock, laptop pop, experimental soft rock
Others: Tortoise, Jim O’Rourke, Archer Prewitt, Sam Prekop, Fairline Parkway

Only a 3 you ask? Well, don't get the wrong idea; One Bedroom is not a disaster, nor is it one of Sea and Cake's weaker albums. In fact, I would argue that One Bedroom is their most articulately affective album through their almost decade run as a band; it finally creates the dynamic and cohesive flow without the entirely predictable plots and non-narratives of the past. However, as descent as the album is in a stand-alone mindset, the faults lie within the context of relativity rather than simply the ten new songs proffered on this album. Is it unfair to judge the album by drawing comparisons and parallels? I think not. Considering music is only really realized in a cultural context, the fact that One Bedroom is about one degree away from Oui (2000) is, to many fans, a loud call for change. Following the predictable lineage of past albums, fans have come to expect little flux; the group has never been about redefining themselves or bridging gaps between reified genres. They thrived on perfecting their own music to an almost nirvanic utopia. And yet, this utopic vision is blurred by the repetitious, very played-out vocal straining of Sam Prekop. He has the vocal range of a newborn baby with a sore throat. For Prekop newbies, this curse was more of a blessing; but after album upon album (not to mention his solo effort), it has become an instrument representing a motionless paradigm, crystallizing the group's melodic range to about five notes. Sure, the band is closer to achieving the perfection they seem to be striving for, but the rest of us is left in a brouhaha of sameness and predictability. I think the last two song titles, "Try Nothing" and "Sound and Vision," express this dichotomy most appropriately.

1. Four Corners
2. Left Side Clouded
3. Hotel Tell
4. Le Baron
5. Shoulder Length
6. One Bedroom
7. Interiors
8. Mr. F
9. Try Nothing
10. Sound and Vision