After a three-year sabbatical, Chitown’s calm collective is back and ready to samba — or whatever one does to post-rock, electroacoustic bossa nova-ish music. There have been solo albums and side projects by Sam Prekop (vocals, guitar) and Archer Prewitt (guitars, keyboards). John McEntire (drums, percussion, vibes, marimba, keyboard, etc.) has been working behind the soundboard for Stereolab and his S&C pals above. Considering this, it’s miraculous that the Sea and Cake has created an album that flows more gently than previous releases. It seems that all of the solo work, production and otherwise, has sharpened their songwriting skill and made the S&C grow as a unit.
Oui is a very mature album. As we know from albums such as The Biz and The Fawn, the Sea and Cake is an excellent indie-pop band — one of the best, actually. While Oui has its poppy moments — “All the Photos” and “Midtown” for example — it all but ignores the ground covered in earlier releases. This time it seems that the solo albums (especially Prekop’s glorious self-titled 1999 release) have led the S&C in a new direction. Introspective and wistfully melodic, Prekop’s vocals permeate the soul and will sink into your mind like sleep. Together, Prekop, Prewitt, McEntire and Eric Claridge (bass) synergistically combine for what is, primarily, a richly textured bossa nova album. Highlights include the introductory “Afternoon Speaker,” “Leaf” and my personal favorite, “You Beautiful Bastard.”
Not completely satisfying for the fan who may have hoped for more of the same blissful pop goodness, Oui will calm your nerves and bring about a meditative, contemplative mind-set. Be sure, however, to stay away from driving and operating heavy machinery.
The Sea and Cake performs with Broadcast Friday (Nov. 10) at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward in Detroit. Call 313-833-9700.
Robert Gorell writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail him at [email protected].