Seachange's debut album, Lay of the Land, introduces the band as both a quintessentially British group and an anomaly within the British music scene. Their moody anthems have more impact than the likes of British Sea Power, but more melody and beauty than bands such as Oceansize. Singer Dan Eastop has an attractive and distinctly British accent (he pronounces "laughing" as "loffing") and a voice that's equally graceful and rough, a description that also applies to his band's music. Seachange are nothing if not passionate, with slashing guitars and sawing violins on almost every track and a tendency toward long, intricate songs that veer between pretty melancholy and rock angst. For a good portion of Lay of the Land this approach suits them, particularly on the electrified murder ballad "Anglokana" and the single "Glitterball." "News From Nowhere," another single, is particularly striking, juxtaposing jangly guitars on the verse with harsh choruses that sound like they came from a different song. "The Nightwatch" is another standout, an epic that makes the most of the band's tidal rushes of sound and sharp lyrics ("I have friends in higher places/Why am I talking like the movies?"). Seachange also show that they can do straight-up rock on "SF," a stomping track mostly free of the brooding that characterizes the rest of Lay of the Land; "Carousel," on the other hand, takes this brooding to extremes in an equally pretty and barbed way. However, the band's gift for melody deserts them occasionally, and songs like "Do It All Again" and "Come On Sister" tend to drag. At times, the intense-yet-underdeveloped feel of Lay of the Land makes it a claustrophobic experience, but its quieter moments, such as "No Questions" and the angular finale "Fog," still throw off sparks while allowing a little more breathing room. Lay of the Land is too interesting and powerful a debut to dismiss, but Seachange would be even more powerful and interesting if they had a bit more focus and restraint.
Lay of the Land Review
by Heather Phares