SEAFOOD Cloaking (Infectious)

SEAFOOD When Do We Start Fighting… (Infectious)

Not having heard anything by Seafood before, I couldn't really judge whether their single "Cloaking" is a perfect introduction or not. My feeling tends towards the negative, however. For all its Sonic Youth-style guitar flailing and screaming female backing vocals it seems a little too detached and unengaging, a riot of sound and fury with nothing at its core. There are more interesting things afoot elsewhere on this CD, however: "Boggle" offers six minutes of scratchy electronica and distorted vocals, very "Kid A", admittedly, but very good, and "Clear Keeping" is a pleasant enough acoustic thing.

What delights Seafood may have to offer are more readily apparent on their second album, "When Do We Start Fighting…". Produced by Eli Janney of Girls Vs Boys, there seems to be something of a jerky patchwork here that keeps proceedings interesting and invigorating. As track follows track ambient interludes are broken up by rippling torrents of distorted electric guitars only to be replaced by gentle unplugged ditties. Throughout the lyrics are so inscrutable as to defy analysis (a few sample titles: "In This Light Will You Fight Me?", "Desert Stretched Before The Sun") but the pungency of the music pulls the listener through, to the point where the likes of "Western Battle" become addictively more-ish. With most of the usual subjects currently in recession or regression, Seafood have conjured up some of the year's crunchiest and crackliest guitar sounds on "When Do We Start Fighting…", and should be closely observed to see where they take their distinctive sound next.

SEAFOOD Splinter (Infectious)

"Splinter" is another single extracted from Seafood's fine new long player "When Do We Start Fighting…", three minutes of tightly controlled and carefully channelled guitar vitriol that draws favourable comparisons with the likes of Pixies and Sonic Youth. There are various interesting Gerling remixes spread over the released formats, none of which, sadly, made it to my promotional CD, so you'll have to find out for yourselves how good they are. (Very, would be my guess). But when are Infectious going to do the decent thing and release the acrid, pungent "Western Battle", Seafood's finest moment by a country mile, as a single?

SEAFOOD Western Battle (Infectious)

Finally, after all, but undoubtedly nothing to do with, my nagging and cajoling, Seafood's greatest three minutes is granted a single release. "Western Battle" is peak period Hsker D (round about the "New Day Rising" album, at a guess, when just about every other song they recorded was a searing mash-up of Byrds melody and hardcore attitude, volume and power) rendered with a curious Sonic Youth-style avant-flatness (listen to the drums!). It's a work of near-brilliance, the kind of song that has me cranking up the volume and hitting the repeat button like nothing has since the sadly-departed At The Drive-In's "One Armed Scissor". A shame its been saddled with what are, by Seafood standards, some fairly dreary b-sides: no Pixies covers or dubbed-up experimentation, just an acoustic ballad ("Blue Bolt") and distorted ranting ("All Slept").

SEAFOOD Pleasurehead/JETPLANE LANDING What The Argument Has Changed (Infectious)

In which Seafood raid their "When Do We Start Fighting…" album for a fourth single and return with "Pleasurehead", not the most obvious candidate. There's the minute's wait for anybody to get around to singing for a kick-off, and the quiet blend of melancholy and melody aren't quite what Seafood are known (if not famous) for. More traditional fare can be found on a live rendition of "Gun Trip", which breaks out the angular junior Sonic Youthisms once again.

Unfortunately, on this split single Seafood are comprehensively upstaged by their support act, Jetplane Landing. "What The Argument Has Changed" does the kind of venomous half-shouted/half-sung angst thing unheard since At The Drive-In split up in a final act of integrity, and the more conventional alt-guitar moves of "Summer Ends" aren't too shabby either.