Sea of Clouds

Last Days of April

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Sea of Clouds Review

by James Christopher Monger

The easygoing Swedish indie pop outfit's ninth full-length studio outing, Sea of Clouds is pure Scandinavian Americana, effectively pairing sugary Paisley Underground-kissed Nordic pop with pedal steel heavy country-folk -- fans of Ron Sexsmith, the Posies' Ken Stringfellow, and late-period Waterboys will find much to love here. Frontman Karl Larsson's laconic yet charismatic vocal style compliments the material, most of which revolves around the lovelorn and heartbroken, but it's Anders Pettersson's deft pedal steel work that seals the deal. Larsson's frequently on-the-nose lyrics ("I was the artist, you were my pain") are bolstered by Pettersson's melodic punctuation throughout the album. This equation is best exemplified on stand-out cuts like the rollicking, Roger McGuinn-esque "The Way Things Were," the sweet Buddy Holly by way of Gram Parsons retro-pop gem "Oh Well," and the slow burn title cut, the latter of which finds Pettersson applying a thick layer of vintage fuzz to the instrument that lends the track a menacing undercurrent. At just nine songs, Sea of Clouds is a largely unassuming affair, both sonically and lengthwise, but it rewards a patient ear and an open, if slightly damaged heart.

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