Sea Wolf: Leaves in the River

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Sea Wolf: Leaves in the River

Tasteful full-length debut from another indie troubadour disguised as a band

Like Conor Oberst, Sam Beam and Matt Pond before him, singer/songwriter Alex Brown Church understands that there’s more to life and art than an acoustic guitar.

His band Sea Wolf has no permanent members other than himself, but the conceit allows the onetime NYU ?lm student to draw on L.A.’s entire indie underground for the tones and textures that enrich his cinematic songs. Church’s ?rst full-length—which borrows only the self-de?ning “You’re a Wolf” from the introductory EP he released earlier this year (though he should’ve also included folk-noir fable “I Made a Resolution”)—leans heavily on cellos and violins for its chamber-pop ambience, further de?ned by Balkan minor-key colors and the existential use of space. The material and presentation are musically subdued and verbally re?ned, but the only truly sticky tracks are “Winter Windows,” which brings some accordion-pumping kineticism to the recipe, and “The Rose Captain,” which sports an arching melodic hook worthy of Coldplay.