The Sea and Cake: Car Alarm
Can’t hear the car alarm
The first rule of Chicago’s the Sea and Cake is do no harm. After 14 years (including a three-year hiatus), they’ve achieved a level of consistency only Calexico or Quaker Oats could rival. Like Car Alarm’s monochromatic cover, you have to work to see the variations. “Fuller Moon” uses steel drum to follow the guitar line, and the rolling arpeggiated squiggle of “Weekend” is one of few electronic touches. Each instrumental blends into the song, never drawing attention to its exotic presence. The band is always tasteful, but ultimately its gentility does The Sea and Cake no favors. Singer Sam Prekop’s whispered voice turns even conflicts (“Pages”) and complicated situations (“Down In The City”) into brunch soundtracks. Maybe all of Car Alarm is about conflict, but Prekop glides and sighs over every vowel, making it difficult to hear what he’s saying or to detect a hint of tension beneath the gloss.
Listen to "On a Letter" from The Sea and Cake's Car Alarm: