Seabear: We Built a Fire
Right now Iceland is more famous for its volcanic ash than its pop music, but Seabear’s sophomore album We Built a Fire is filled with sunny tunes that could warm any indie kid. Combining the catchiness of folk instruments with the universal appeal of singing in English, the band comes across as a more accessible version of fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós. For fans of bands like Fleet Foxes, Noah and the Whale, and Jonquil, this record is a must.
Frontman Sindri Már Sigfússon’s voice is gentle but versatile enough to sound like another instrument, blending with diverse elements of violin or harpsichord, piano or brass to form a rich sonic landscape. Sometimes it can be difficult to make out the words, English or not, but it’s the delivery rather than the lyrical content that often makes a difference. The track “Softship,” for instance, begins with an outdoors singalong vibe but quickly grows into layers of lush electric guitars to complement the male and female vocalists. Another of the album’s highlights is “Warm Blood,” an acoustic ballad with shambolic clashes of feedback and cymbals between verses. The fragile notes and wailing guitars, working together with lyrics like “So kiss those crooked, crooked teeth / I know you wanna leave / just float those bad thoughts away from me,” evoke the end of a beautiful relationship. With summer approaching, this album should have no problem findings its way into the CD players and hard drives of people looking for warm music that can play in the background or draw one into its lyrical world.