Seabear - We Built A Fire
Record Label: Morr Music
Release Date: March 16, 2010
There are times when I hear an album, and no matter how much I enjoy it, I know that I'll never write a review about it. Whether it's an album that I wouldn't know how draw comparisons to, an album that is too grand for me to completely dive into, or simply an album that I like too much for my still-developing journalistic skills to develop a fair, unbiased review of, there are simply some things that I can't write about. I had such a qualm the first time I heard Seabear's sophomore release, We Built A Fire. I liked it so much, and it was so unique and special, that I didn't think I could do it justice by writing a review. Now that the record has been out since March and I've listened to dozens of other albums, I feel like I can take a step back and attempt a balanced and thought-out review of it.
The Icelandic group fronted by Sindri Mar Sigfusson, whose last name I will not write again, made a splash in the indie pop/rock pool with their debut The Ghost That Carried Us Away in 2007. Sindri is, according to Seabear's Myspace, accompanied by six other Icelandic musicians, all of whom have names that make Sindri's look simple and commonplace. Together, these musicians have collaborated to put out the singular most breathtakingly beautiful record of 2010 thus far. There have been releases that are more accessible, easier to jam to, and better overall, but from a standpoint of truly welcoming, beautiful music, Seabear have set the bar.
The indie pop/rock sound presented on We Built A Fire is the kind that at times might bore me. It's a sound that I might enjoy for a few listens before growing weary of, leading me to shelf it for months. However, in this case, Seabear bring to the forefront a handful of catchy melodies that accompany their astounding musicianship and Sindri's soft, top-tier vocals. This style makes We Built A Fire that much more accessible and has kept it in my rotation of normally played albums. In fact, it was the melodies on songs like "Fire Dies Down", "I'll Build You A Fire", "Softship", and "Wolfboy" that were the attention-grabbers for me the first time I played this record through. Right from the start with opener "Lion Face Boy", Seabear bring you in and captivate you for the entirety of We Built A Fire.
The opening track has proven to be one of my favorites, blending a fantastic, swaying melody with one of Sindri's most impressive vocal performances on the record. The song builds onto itself throughout the first couple of minutes before it really gets going at the halfway mark. It is at these moments when I think Seabear are at their finest - when their crescendos are in full force, their orchestral arrangements are sweeping, and their music, although it isn't faced-paced, seems to be rushing by as the listener is so enveloped in it. Seabear use quite a variety of instruments on this album, each one playing its own role in the larger, grandiose scheme of things. Such an example is present on "Fire Dies Down", which begins softly and slowly before the latter half of the song shines, following the same structure as "Lion Face Boy". Continuing, "I'll Build You A Fire" is a richly put-together track filled with quirky little harmonies and driven by rhythmic drumming. Sindri's vocals on these opening tracks, as well as the rest of the album, are interesting in that you know they sound good, but at times you can hardly tell what he's saying. It adds a mystique to the album for me, as I prefer to listen to the vocals as an addition to the soundscape instead of as a storyline.
Other standouts apart from the aforementioned tracks are "Leafmask", with its angelic vocals, "Warm Blood", a favorite which features the most rocking instrumental portions on the record, and "In Winters Eyes", a playful number with a warm guitar line. Describing each individual track on We Built A Fire, however, would be as ill-advised a task as describing to someone just one scene of the Star Wars movie saga or one chapter of the Harry Potter book series. We Built A Fire is an album so terribly beautiful, articulate, and mesmerizing that it needs to be listened to in gulps, not sips. And while it's the type of music that might serve as a background to studying or lend itself to a bedtime playlist, We Built A Fire deserves your undivided attention. Find some time today to drop what you're doing, cast away your cell phones and game controllers, and listen to this record all at once if you haven't already. I guarantee that it will be worth your while, as no other record this year has quite managed to draw parallel to We Built A Fire.