Following their 2014 debut Strange Captive, The Morning Sea released earlier this month their EP Mal-De-Mer which they classify as a fusion of rock, alternative rock, and Gothic Americana. Adam Cohen (vocals), Tony Long (guitar, backing vocals), Sonny Ratcliff (bass, backing vocals), Andrew Nesbitt (drums, backing vocals), and Matt Nelson (trombone, percussion) have put together seven tracks which Cohen explains are all part of a “broken heart record”. “Every song documents the end of a relationship,” he says, “and they all come from a personal place I believe people can connect to universally”.
The title of the EP and its opening track refer to the French expression for seasickness. “Mal-De Mer” is a gentle, piano-driven track that introduces new listeners to Cohen’s ballad-worthy vocals. Seeing that this is a collection of songs all about love and relationships, one can’t help but think that he is using failure as a sailor who gets seasick to reflect on his failure in a relationship.
The drum-driven, up-tempo tongue-in-cheek “Don’t Be Moronic, Merriam” is highlighted with interspaced horns. The supporting guitars and piano all add a playfulness to the song. The rocking “Alexandra” is even higher in tempo and in energy, with horns completing rather than competing with the classic rock feel of this track. Every line of this track—from the guitars, to the bass, to the horns, the drums, and the vocals—seems to be a speeding car down a sunny stretch of deserted highway (a convertible with the top down, of course). I can easily see this track becoming a summer anthem.
While a little more restrained, the melody in “Lonely Hearts in the Cosmos” retains some of the wittiness reflected previously in “Don’t Be Moronic, Merriam”, while the vocals are much more solemn—making for a track that is uplifting rather than depressing without ruining the ability of it to evoke melancholy about being alone and, potentially, brokenhearted. “Dog Days” has a bit of a pop rock feel, what with the mid-tempo, throbbing beat that drives it, while “Backburner Baby” gives off a grittier rock vibe.
The EP ends with “The Cold & The Quiet”, the movement of which reminds me a little of the movement of waves. Ebbing and flowing, built on an acoustic guitar-led part and enhanced with a gentle choir, the slow beginning rises up one layer at a time featuring drums, an electric guitar, and, of course, Cohen’s consistently beautiful vocals.
While focused on the sometimes very difficult path to finding romantic love, ultimately Mal-De-Mer is an uplifting EP that might accompany lonely hearts seeking to find their special someone. Tracks are available for streaming on Bandcamp. More information about The Morning Sea is available on their official website as well as on their Facebook page.
Pictures provided by RMG.