A Not-So-Original Earworm of an Album is Still An Earworm
Just in time for autumn, as the weather changes so Sea Wolf’s nimble melodies act as the swirling leaves of a windswept day. Old World Romance is beautiful; there’s almost no other way to describe it. “Old Friend” is melancholy and yearning, starting off with flowing arpeggios, weaving guitar and mandolins onto the Beirut groove feel of “In Nothing.” Though the man behind the moniker, Alex Brown Church has assembled quite a mix of musicians in the past for his previous Sea Wolf efforts, none seem as tight as the current batch.
Old World Romance matches its title in earnestness tenfold, each song one heartbreak away from a collapse into itself. The songs are pretty fragile and pull on heartstrings as effortlessly as the swell of cello and violin in the especially melancholy “Priscilla.” “Kasper” and “Changing Seasons” are probably the most modern-sounding tracks and highlight the expert mixing of Kennie Takahashi. “Dear Fellow Traveler” is a castanet-driven masterpiece, Church at his most evocative and eerily enough, sounding most like Coldplay’s Chris Martin. At times the vocal similarities are almost too striking.
As far as making any new points for the case of lo-fi indie, there’s nothing all that new here. What keeps you coming back and hitting repeat is simply that it’s a well-made record, expertly produced and finely crafted within the central theme of love and longing. “Saint Catherine St.” marks some of the more cliched efforts, along with closing track “Whirpool,” which is haunting but almost overwhelming; a legitimate reprise of “Old Friend” though far mellower. If Sea Wolf’s gonna stick around past this fourth album, Church and co. have got to get more creative. For now we’ll be mindlessly looping this album for the foreseeable future.