The Next Great American Indie
With Great Pines, Seagulls have created a debut album that, if they continue to make work of this caliber (work this beautifully and meticulously constructed) – will go down as an indie rock classic. It has all the makings of a classic already. It has the beautiful intro, soothing listeners into the Seagulls’ sonic world. The catchy surf rock and folk-inspired tunes. And perhaps most importantly, the expertly constructed details (all the horns, noise tracks, harmonies) that warrant – and indeed – demand repeat listens.
In just one track that shows exactly what this band is capable of, look no further than “You and Me”. It’s an ear worm of a track that, and this is not said lightly, sounds like a combination of the early Beatles, early Real Estate, and Sonny and the Sunsets. The melody is a simple sun flecked tune delivered perfectly, with just the right amount of urgency by lead singer Matt Whittle. Seagulls don’t simply make great, hummable tunes though – they make great, hummable, interesting tunes.
In addition to the beautiful melody and delivery, “You and Me” is teeming with subtle, carefully planned backing tracks. The slow fade of the female backup vocals leaves just the right aftertaste. The accordion, synth and noise track interlude breaks up the song in exactly the right way, providing the perfect amount of tension in an otherwise sweet song. The 50’s inspired piano track that comes in three quarters of the way through the song is used sparsely, but fits so well it’s forgotten that it hasn’t been there the whole time. Any band would be happy to have written such a great song, but the extra dressing Seagulls throws on the track displays both how ambitious they are, and that they have the talent to execute that ambition.
It would be remiss not to add a note about the tracking on Great Pine. Often times a band will create a number of songs and simply place them together in order to create an album. On Great Pine, each song is placed exactly where it should be. “Thirteen”, the sparsest, most ballad-like track on the album (with almost a Fountains of Wayne vibe to it), follows “Old Habits”, the album’s most straight forward (still subdued) rock song. “Great Pine”, the track immediately following “Thirteen”, opens with a bubbling arppegiator, changing up the texture like a palate cleanser before opening up into soft strummed guitars and rich vocal harmonies. By the time the distorted guitars pound with the drums at the beginning of “Holy Smokes” the stark contrast in volume and tone feels natural – the tracking has gently guided us towards it.
Following in the footsteps of other great indie debuts (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (who seem to have a distinct influence on this album), Beach Fossils, Real Estate)), Great Pines is a harbinger of a fruitful career. Give this album a listen, then another listen, then buy it, then give it another listen. Then, years later, when seeing a sold out Seagulls show, brag to friends about being one of the first to hear the next great American Indie band.