REVIEW: Seahaven – ‘Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only’

Seahaven Reverie Lagoon Music For Escapism Only Review

Artist: Seahaven
Album: Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only
Genre: Indie Rock / Blues
Label: Run For Cover

By now, fans of Seahaven are used to sudden change without warning. The California band emerged onto the scene in 2010 with Ghost, a relatively simple thinking-man’s post-hardcore/punk EP featuring equal parts growly vocals and pile ons and slow, grungy moments with introspective lyrics. The band’s first full-length record, 2011’s Winter Forever, ditched the growls for a more mature dive into emo-rock with rigid production and a sense of hopelessness in the lyrics that the record’s title implies. Many longtime fans of the band felt alienated by lead singer Kyle Soto’s new vocal style and the dramatic shift away from the clichés of the hardcore scene, but the mostly studio-focused Winter Forever received critical acclaim and leagues of new fans due to its obvious jump in maturity.

If your love for Seahaven stems from their live-centric punk sound of Ghost, you’re probably going to be extremely disappointed in the band’s new album, Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only. If you listen to the band for the stark and hopeless emo-reminiscent appeal of Winter Forever, there’s a good chance that the new record won’t resonate with you either. Despite high expectations and pre-conceived ideas about the band, it’s crucial to listen to Reverie Lagoon with a fresh mindset because it’s a fantastic, if polarizing album. I fully understand the risk that comes with making a comparison to Brand New, but Reverie Lagoon is Seahaven’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me; this album solidifies the band’s jump from an exceptional emo-influenced punk band to something much bigger.

The album drifts in on “Fifty-Four,” a slow, guitar-driven track accentuated with the sounds of crashing waves and meaningless chatter in the background. Soto croons near-indistinguishably for a few bars, and as the track fades into “Andreas,” it’s apparent that Reverie Lagoon is a completely new beast. Produced by Soto and engineered by Ben Brodin (Bright Eyes, Pete Yorn), washed out tones and breezy melodies are the main focus here. Atmospherically, Reverie Lagoon is a counterpoint to Winter Forever; it’s simple and slowed down, with slurred rhythms and a warm sound that’s begging for play time during late summer nights.

Where past records have opened with confessions of Soto’s familiarity with the devil who sleeps inside his brain, “Andreas” peacefully beckons to the listener, “Come to me, come to me / I’ll be your friend.” Moving past his own demons, the new album shows Soto’s lyricism evolving to the role of the enlightened guide. The introspective analysis of records past is gone in favor of more laissez-faire attitude. In “Highway Blues,” Soto exemplifies the mindset that carries the record in a few lines: “This life’s a mess and I know best / We ain’t got much control I guess.” The album is lyrically impressive, but Soto’s hotly debated, carelessly sedated voice that appeared on Winter Forever is back in full-effect, sometimes making it difficult to understand exactly what’s he singing about.

The pacing of the record is phenomenal as well. Clocking in at the longer-than-most run time of 52 minutes, Reverie Lagoon seldom repeats itself. Clean electric guitars, subtle programmed drums reminiscent of Transatlanticism-era Death Cab For Cutie, jangling acoustic guitars, and acoustic piano are all accounted for, giving each track a unique flavor while maintaining the care-free, summery mood. The lack of heavy punk elements doesn’t make the record any less exciting than previous releases, albeit in a totally different way.

For all intents and purposes, Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only is almost nothing like the band’s previous material, and that’s okay. Seahaven have created a fantastic record that stands on its own as a testament to the band’s undeniable musical skill. While the absence of the punk-hardcore sound the group came up through is sure to upset long-time fans, Reverie Lagoon deserves a fair chance and should be exemplified as a band changing its sound done right.

SCORE: 9/10

Review written by John Bazley (follow him on Twitter)

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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