On May 10, The Sea and Cake will unleash their highly anticipated, ninth studio album “Moonlight Butterfly.”
You can never have too much cake
On May 10, The Sea and Cake will unleash their highly anticipated, ninth studio album “Moonlight Butterfly.” The group’s impressive and consistent discography coincides with their flawless twenty-year career, churning out their dueling jazzy guitar licks into something that always exceeds expectations and yet remains true to their original formula.
First introduced to the group by my music-savvy high school history teacher Rick Stern, my ears have since been entrapped by the powerful and unique music that this quartet produces. The Sea and Cake, said to have been coined after a misconception of a song by Gastr del Sol, “The C in Cake,” is made up of Sam Prekop (vocals, guitar), Archer Prewitt (guitar, piano, vocals), John McEntire (percussion, drums, synth) and Eric Claridge (bass, synth). Always providing an unquestionable presence when heard, the sounds they’ve cultivated over the years have exemplified how a band can find their own stylistic niche and grow with it.
Formed in Chicago in the mid-’90s, these acclaimed indie rockers have been exceptionally consistent in putting out records. Since their self-titled debut album released in 1994, the group wasted no time continuing with their rather particular palette. Shortly following their debut the next year, they quickly released their next two albums, “Nassau” and “The Biz.” These contemporary works, hitting a sweet spot with many, provided listeners with a breath of fresh air as the group merged African sounds with a Latin samba-like flavor amongst their already skillfully crafted tones.
Relishing their ability to create meaningful and refreshing songs with ease, their musical flexibility started to diminish towards the end of the decade. Poised with challenges that involved integrating familiar tastes of the past with something that was new and imaginative, The Sea and Cake had no other choice but to evolve.
As an era that became to be musically defined as a prolific fusion between vintage characteristics and new, the group successfully displayed their efforts in trying to keep up the pace. In their following albums “The Fawn,” “Oui” and “One Bedroom,” these resilient virtuosos decided to integrate more of an electronic approach that had become the backbone for their music since, sticking with them for the next ten years.
After their additions of electronic grooves to their jazzy post-rock style started to seem like yet another creative plateau, the band took hiatus until returning with a new and rediscovered sense of why they were so successful in the first place. The Sea and Cake’s triumphant return, “Everybody” showed exactly what the band had drifted away from: the simple idea that innovation plays a very important role, whether it be in their melodic riffs, hooks or even with lyrics.
“Car Alarm,” released in 2008, was a definitive point for the band. Argued by critics to be their best album in ten years, “Car Alarm” displayed not only the group’s culmination of their sonic stew, but it showed that the band had come to ripen quite nicely.
So, what is new about their most recent album “Moonlight Butterfly?” Well, seeing as how The Sea and Cake have leapt over many a creative wall thus far, it is actually astonishing that these Chicago-based legends have persevered to a point where they are still experimenting. On the track “Moonlight Butterfly,” it’s different to a point where anything I would say is an understatement. That track is nothing but synthesized beats.
Their new album brings enlightenment and focuses more on the idea of illuminating each instrument to another level of appreciation, especially the band’s integration of the synthesizer, shown wonderfully on the track “Inn Keeping.” It is no question that these guys have considerable skills in songwriting, which center on the crooning lyrics of Prekop. This is brought to a very definitive and recognizable point on this new record. All aside, a big difference is that “Moonlight Butterfly” boasts a shorter track list, but longer tracks, inviting the listener to just get lost and enjoy the music in a cinematic sense, which is all Prekop and the band undoubtedly leave you to do. I urge you to give it a listen. ?