Only Seafood's fourth album in a career that's spanned over a decade, Paper Crown King, like its immediate predecessor As the Cry Flows, was delayed by -- and is lyrically and musically informed by -- lead singer David Line's life-threatening illness. This isn't a particularly dark or depressing album, despite the presence of tunes like the stark solo acoustic ballad "Awkward Ghost," because Seafood's core sound has its roots in the strain of U.K. indie rock directly established by U2's soaring, intrinsically hopeful early sound. So the single "Signal Sparks" has quiet, slowly building verses leading into an anthemic, churning chorus, and much of the rest of the album fairly hums with the energy that comes when post-punk roots and stadium aspirations collide. Unfortunately, the songs are an uneven lot, with too many that blend together in a sort of Coldplay-meets-Swervedriver blur, but Paper Crown King ends on a promising note with the utterly atypical "How You Gonna Live Without Me?," a country-tinged pop tune sung with alluring sass by drummer Caroline Banks. Though Seafood have flirted with country and folk previously (and they're currently signed to Cooking Vinyl, a folk-oriented U.K. indie), this is the most overtly country tune the group have ever attempted, and it works so well it's a treat.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason