Noise Annoys: Sea Pinks go soft on new LP
AS YOU stare glumly at the unrelentingly wet, grey beginnings of 2016 through steamy, rain-streaked windows, keeping a copy of the Sea Pinks' new LP Soft Days on the turntable should help soothe the existential angst that goes hand in glove with early January.
The record's jangly, foot-tapping tales of love, lust, betrayal and chance provide a concentrated dose of melodic, atmospheric indiepop, as the Belfast trio set about conjuring up a doorway to a kinder, more gentle alternative indie rock universe in which grunge (excluding Nirvana), Britpop and the bloody Strokes never happened.
In Sea Pinks' twee-tastic, lo-fi world, it's still C86, Belshill Beat, Paisley Underground, K-Recs and the Thames Valley scene all the way, baby: sing-songy vocals, reverby guitars augmented by pedals set to 'shimmer', peppy biscuit tin drums and bouncy basslines rule the roost from dawn to dusk.
Released via their own CF Records imprint, Soft Days is Sea Pinks' fifth full length, on which they exude the cool confidence of a group comfortably in command of their preferred idiom.
Having originated back in 2010 as a solo side project for guitar-wielding singer and frontman Neil Brogan while he was drumming for Girls Names – who finally hit their creative stride on last year's excellent Arms Around A Vision LP long after Brogan's depature – the current Sea Pinks line-up also features ex-Clone Quartet turned Documenta man Steven Henry on bass and former Cleverdoll/Panda Kopanda/Newtown Forest FC fella David Agnew on traps.
Both also featured on last year's well-received Dreaming Tracks LP: however, Soft Days is actually the first Sea Pinks full-length to be written with this three piece format in mind and it finds them bringing extra live-honed musical chemistry to bear on their new set of songs.
While the band's somewhat limited sonic scope means Soft Days might sound deceptively one-dimensional upon first listen, repeated exposure soon reveals a record with plenty of light and shade across its 11 songs.
A quick blast of smirky, surfy indiepop nugget Yr Horoscope followed-up immediately by Down Dog's groovy garage rocking jam-out provides just what the doctor ordered for those in need of a post-party season cobweb cleanse.
Once you've got to grips with this pair of back-to-back album highlights, you'll soon be slow dancing to the soothing sound of nostalgic ballad I Won't Let Go, frugging through Ordinary Daze – which recalls the romantic indie pop rush of unfairly forgotten Stoke Newington outfit The Family Cat – and the title track's moody mash-up of The Chills and The Smiths, before bobbing your bowlcut to the break-up beats of defiant album opener (I Don't Feel Like) Giving In and Cold Reading's saucy post-tryst boogie.
The bittersweet Trend When You're Dead combines pretty, Johnny Marr-esque guitars with a post-punky early Bunnymen-style gloom pop sensibility: and, lest slowie heartbreaker Green With Envy's despairing chime and clang send you into a downward spiral, things perk up immediately thereafter via the dreampoppy Depth of Field's garage band shoegaze swirl.
Elsewhere, the playful Police-style white reggae riff that carries Everything In Sight stands out as something a little different – though thankfully Brogan doesn't attempt to emulate Sting's scat-call antics as the song slides back into more familiar bedsit indie territory for its melancholic chorus.
You can hear some of Soft Days done live and loud tonight along with favourites from the Sea Pinks ever expanding back catalogue at their early doors album launch show at Lavery's in Belfast (8pm, £5), where physical copies of the LP will be on sale.
Alternatively, those still too afraid to leave the house can secure a life-enhancing download and/or CD or limited vinyl at Seapinks.bandcamp.com, where anyone feeling particularly flush can now get bang up to date with all things Sea Pinks by downloading their entire digital discography for the bargain price of £24.75.
Then simply draw the curtains, press play and party like the past 20 years never happened – January will be done and dusted before you know it.