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Music Review: Built For The Sea – Built For The Sea

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It may seem a strange time to review an album that was actually released back in 2006, so admittedly somewhat late I bring you the eponymous debut album, Built For The Sea, from San Francisco’s Built For The Sea.

In my defence, Built For The Sea has gone from strength to strength earning them appearances at the SXSW Conference and San Francisco’s Noise Pop Festival in both 2007 and 2008. They have also played some of the city’s most well known venues and have shared stages with Maria Taylor, and Film School amongst others.

So what did I/we miss back in 2006 that has caused all this subsequent activity and recognition? Fronted by outstanding vocalist, guitarist, and pianist Lia Rose, Built For The Sea is comprised of Jonny Latimer’s lead guitar, bass player Daniel McKenzie, drummer Eric Kuhn, and cellist Michael Fecskes.

Best described on their own website as playing oceanic indie rock, the band produced an ethereal soundscape of dreamily hypnotic and highly mesmerizing music. It is Lia’s voice that will attract the majority of the attention and rightly so. Lia possesses a voice that will melt your heart, warm your soul, and captivate your musical mind.

There is a dreamily mellow vibe to this band’s music. As the mist rolls in from the sea, from which they take their name, across the Golden Gate Bridge they serve up a swirling musicality that will immediately absorb you. Lia’s vocals sooth, shimmer, and shine throughout. Just listen to her performance on “These Streets” or “Move In Time” to see where I’m coming from.

The band never breaks the spell by overplaying. Instead they pitch it right, underpinning Lia’s songs with just the right expression of emotion, vitality, and tempo. The result is purely mesmerizing.

It has to be pointed out that Built For The Sea has achieved something that many bands trip up over. They have established their own individual style within a debut album. That style radiates a warm glow amid mid-range melody and wonderfully crafted, mature songwriting.

Jonny Latimer’s guitar adds washes of colour and clever layering of textures. It is a similar effect that Coldplay's Jonny Buckland achieves: simple, yet highly effective. It shows a refreshing, collective understanding within the band of the direction that the music should go.

Let’s face it, any band that includes a cello clearly knows the sound it wants. “Dreamer” is a perfect example of this. Radiating quality and sincerity, it is a song so lovingly sung by Lia that it pulls heavily on the heartstrings.

They can do this time and again without ever getting dull or predictable. “Hypnotist” is a quality song that hangs around long after the mist has finally cleared and you can see across the bay again.

The opening to “Release” has Lia singing with the minimal of backing. “Paper Tigers” underlines that there simply isn’t anything near to being a filler anywhere on this album. A hauntingly beautiful “Dive In”, the chiming guitar on “Awake” and “My Dear”, and the luscious opener, “We Now Know”, all maintain an undeniable quality.

So why review it now? Well, it just so happens that a new EP, Mise En Scene, is now available and a new album being worked on. Either way this is an album that really shouldn’t be missed – even though for two years that’s what I managed to do.

Soothing melodic bliss rock/pop with a voice to die for – they’re Built For The Sea. You can listen to this album and more by visiting the band's Myspace Page.

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About Jeff Perkins