The Sea and Cake, Car Alarm (Thrill Jockey)
Not really famous for straying the course, Car Alarm is an album that you would expect to come from Chicago’s the Sea and Cake. If you’re into the band, then odds are you know exactly what to expect, and you will dig it. And why wouldn’t you? All the key elements have been assembled for a typically great Sea and Cake record: Sam Prekop’s smooth, breathy vocals, Eric Claridge’s impressive and tight bass playing, John McEntire’s jazzy and precise drumming and the jangly guitars of Prekop and Archer Prewitt. Like all their records, it is a combination of indie rock, pop, jazz and tropicalia. It is the obvious next step the band could have taken after 2007’s awesomely poppy Everybody, with a very subtle return to some of the electronic sounds of the previous few records (check “Weekend” for some oscillating keyboard work that makes us yearn for some of the blippity-bloop jams from 1997’s The Fawn).
After almost 16 years worth of stellar, reliable releases, Car Alarm mostly sticks to the same strategy the band always has. But, we’re huge fans, so we couldn’t care less. Never change, boys. — Aaron Quillen