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Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Aug 6th, 2014

A Sunny Day in Glasgow: Sea When Absent

glasgowA Sunny Day in Glasgow
Sea When Absent
(Lefse Records)

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Since the band’s inception in 2006, A Sunny Day in Glasgow has featured a rotating roster of members from across the globe. That fragmented nature meant that during the recording of Sea When Absent, the band was never fully in one place at one time. The result is an album with elements washing over one another to create a special sort of shoegaze. It’s somewhere between dream pop and psychedelic, as though My Bloody Valentine had been forced to surrender some guitars for synth and good cheer.

Sea When Absent is the sound of summer. Jen Goma’s voice is gorgeous and gifted, able to rise to high notes or remain soft and melodic. Her vocals are often buried down within the mix, making the lyrics difficult to comprehend. On other albums, this might be a bad thing, but here, it feels appropriate. The instruments carry the meaning of the songs as much as the words do.

Opener “Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)” is a deceptive but delightful start to the record with its loud, clattering chaos. Other tracks are far subtler, like the slow swoon of “Never Nothing (It’s Alright [It’s Ok]).” Here the layered vocals seem to mimic the conflicting desires to cling and let go at the end of a relationship. For me, the most surprisingly captivating track is “Double Dutch,” which is just over a minute and a half long. The clapping percussion and simple lyrics are pure joy, and the laughter that punctuates the end of the song just drives that point home.

Sea When Absent is a difficult album to unpack, even when listening over headphones. What I do know is that the music is uplifting and beautiful, and that’s enough to make it more memorable than many other releases today.

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A Sunny Day in Glasgow: Sea When Absent