"A debut adorned with odd moments of starry-eyed beauty". AfterDark’s Dean Hodge reviews the upcoming debut album from Seafret (released on 29 January 2016).
On first listen of Yorkshire duo Seafret – comprising singer Jack Sedman and guitarist Harry Draper – it’s fairly easy to gather why they are currently riding on a crest of sky-high hype. Jack’s heartfelt vocals and Harry’s roaming guitar melodies create such a simple yet winning chemistry that elevates their music from the intimate surroundings their created in.
Their lyrics are steeped in the most clichéd of musical themes – love found and love (mostly) lost. Yet in the hands of Seafret, they’re made to sound like something much more, and turned into anthems for the heartbroken.
Given the band are seemingly in their comfort zone when writing about such themes, it’s no surprise then that the band’s debut Tell Me It’s Real is adorned with tracks of heartache and healing.
Whether the listener can digest a whole album of love-derived pain very much depends on personal taste – although Adele seems to have done well enough making an earning out of turning heartbreak into hit albums, so why can’t these guys? On the back of the first listen of Tell Me It’s Real, there’s no reason why not when it is done with melodies as mellow as a Cornish cream tea on a Sunday afternoon.
Sure enough, Missing opens their debut in the manner you would expect of the band – tranquil verses interrupted by a searing chorus. It arguably sets the tone for the rest of the album which, while pleasing enough on the ear, can sometimes be too mellow for its own good. As the listener, you want the music to ‘hit’ you squarely in the heart, rather than simply pat you on the shoulder.
Give Me Something, with its plaintive acoustic melody, would arguably be more better positioned as the penultimate track paving the way for the finale, as opposed to straight after the opening track. The same can be said of recent single Wildfire – a track that more than has a whiff of Mumford & Sons in acoustic mode, who now seem to be the poster band for all other similarly pigeonholed ‘indie’ acts to follow.
It is perhaps a wise move though that rather than place their louder tracks first, the band have structured the running order as such so that none of their quieter moments disappear in the background too much. That can be seen as dually one of its strengths and one of its flaws. The music politely acquaints itself with you, but doesn’t hit you hard enough to leave much of an impression, even if underneath the unassuming veil are lyrics that can often pack a knockout punch.
Things pick up slightly in pace withBreathe – one of the stronger tracks and where the band’s sweeping indie-folk sound gradually starts to build momentum. Oceans – already a favourite of many of the band’s fans and famously accompanied by its Maisie Williams (of Game of Thrones) starring video – will no doubt raise many an arm aloft when performed at festivals everywhere.
The clear highlight on the album though, by a country mile, is Over – a slow-burner of a track in every sense of the word. The narrator’s impassioned final plea to keep the dying flames of a relationship alive is smoothly distilled through syrupy melodies and buoyant guitar hooks that possess shades of One Eskimo. Easily my personal favourite from the album and a strong contender for one of the next singles from the album. Not far behind is theTurin Brakes-inspired Be There (previously my own introduction to the band) – a swirling waltz of a track with whimsical verses giving way to the fiery refrain of the track’s title.
There’s A Light has a slight tinge of Elbow to it – the opening hook and gritty riffs strongly recalling Grounds For Divorce. The album finishes with To The Sea – centred around a teeth-achingly sweet duet between singer Jack Sedman and guest vocalist Rosie Carney.
The most startling thing about Tell Me It’s Real though is that, on the surface at least, it possesses the sound of a band riding on a wave of inner confidence – even if underneath the veneer of gusto, they are still finding treading the waters musically.
I normally judge how good I may like an album – or whether I’ll listen to it in its entirety – by the first three tracks. The opening triple salvo of tracks at the beginning initially did little to entice my appetite on first listen. I’m glad I stayed the course here though, as certain tracks have regularly been on repeat since. With repeated listening, each song slowly begins to grow underneath your skin.
Tell Me It’s Real is the mark of a band still testing their sound, but not afraid to fly out their comfort zone either at least on a sonic, if not lyrical, level – hence the breadth of scope that underlies the album. The band throw a lasso at the moon, and while at times it is just far out their reach, the end result can throw up the odd musical moment of starry-eyed beauty.
Key tracks: Breathe/Over/Be There/There’s A Light
Tell Me It’s Real is released from 29 January 2016. Check out the video for Be There below.
More from Seafret: https://afterdark.co/artists/seafret
Buy the album here: http://www.seafret.com/
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