Seabear - We Built A Fire
Craig Broad 06/03/2010
Seabear, a folk band from Iceland(although content with singing in English unlike many of their contemporaries) started as a lo-fi solo project by multi-instrumentalist Sindri Már Sigfússon and evolved into a full septet, with this, their second album 'We Built A Fire' being considered Seabear's first real collective album, with all members of the band allowed an equal input into the writing process in comparison to previous work.
Having not heard their previous work, I perhaps cannot judge how having all members of the band writing has changed their style of music, but I will more than happily say whether it is worth your time.
Opening track 'Lion Face Boy' is abit of a strange one it must be said, painfully folk, it sits somewhere next to Nick Drake, with-held for the whole song, happy to meander and even when the drums kick in, it hardly jumps up a gear. This works well for the Seabear though, vocally, the low tones of Sigfússon's voice compliment the beautiful and obviously Icelandic violin, piano and god knows what else is being played feel of the music that we have perhaps heard in other bands like Sigur Rós and Múm before. What is stranger than the opening track choice, is that the following tracks sit in the same sort of boundaries. In the press release, it is happily quoted that Seabear are an experimental folk band but we don't really get to see this side to them until track seven onwards. 'Softship' which happens to be track seven, is perhaps the most upbeat of the album, although, my opinion could be blurred due to the fact that it is the first one to up the ante after the slow pace of the first six tracks. With an upbeat but rigid drum beat working behind a brighter guitar sound, Seabear find themselves in indie territory with 'Softship' perhaps something that I could describe as a more intricate version of The Thrills. 'Warm Blood', a standout track from the album, starts with a beautiful piano melody before a quiet guitar comes into the fold with the vocals taking the forefront. What makes this song different to the rest is the chorus section, in which seething feedback cuts its way into the track, to allow swift drum rolls and blues guitar lines to momentarily wow you before everything cuts back to the near silence of the verse once more. It is ideas such as this, that make Seabear worth listening to and set them slightly aside from the more obvious folk pack. 'In Winters Eyes' , the most intriguing listen on the record, really sticks out like a sore thumb. It is still very much folk, but it has a very different feel to it very much moving into Conor Oberst territory of late, abit folk with country tinges but more intelligent with song structures and tempo changes.
'We Built A Fire' perhaps isn't the most original of records, I could list a whole bunch of bands that parts of their music sounds like; Seawolf, Conor Oberst, M Ward, Bowerbirds, Arcade Fire, Nick Drake amongst others but they have mixed these sounds with perhaps a now unoriginal Iceland sound that we have been subjected to by the likes of Sigur Rós. It isn't outstanding but it isn't terrible either and if you are abit of a fan of folk, then I can't imagine you coming away too disappointed having heard Seabear.