Effortlessly melodic and marked by a shiny, '90s alt-rock aesthetic, Seaway's third full-length album, 2017's Vacation, is a confidently executed production; the kind that grabs your attention from the start and never lets you turn away. To achieve this vibrant sound, the Toronto-based five-piece decamped to Los Angeles where they hooked up with producer Mike Green (All Time Low, 5 Seconds of Summer, Semi-Precious Weapons). Together they've crafted an uber-enthusiastic pop-punk vision, building upon the best aspects of their previous albums. Once again, the band split lead vocals between lead singer Ryan Locke and guitarist/co-vocalist Patrick Carleton on an inspired set of songs loosely centered on themes of escape, travel, and getting away from it all -- whether that means feeling angsty over your girlfriend's move to London or diving headlong into an endless apartment staycation with the one you love. While the album holds together thematically, under Green's guidance, Seaway have also impressively expanded their studio sound, utilizing subtle electronic drumbeats during key intro sequences and leaning nicely on guitarist Andrew Eichinger's sinewy, kinetic leads. It's a tactile, robust, discreetly sophisticated approach that feels even more strikingly alive than their past recordings. It's also a sound deliciously seasoned with a handful of thoughtfully curated '90s rock influences. The opening "Apartment," with its roiling, arpeggiated guitar hook, brings to mind acts like Built to Spill, whereas cuts like "Neurotic" and "Day Player" find Locke and Carleton matching the exuberant, So-Cal yawp of blink-182 with the propulsive catchiness of Third Eye Blind. Similarly, with "Lula on the Beach," Seaway pair Weezer's chugga-chugga stadium rock with a melody that 14:59-era Sugar Ray would've wet their pants to write. Thankfully, while one can pick up on the influences, Seaway still make every point of reference here their own. In fact, one the most gratifying aspects of Vacation is how Seaway are able to evince a broader tonal palette while retaining all of the gung-ho punk rock enthusiasm that made them such a likeable band in the first place. If Vacation is the sound of Seaway maturing into a bold and self-assured mainstream pop entity, then we can only hope their travel plans are of the extended variety.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar