By The Sea – By the Sea (The Great Pop Supplement/Del’Orso)

Shoegazing/dream pop excellence on the Wirral band's debut

Released Dec 6th, 2012 via The Great Pop Supplement / By Richard Lewis
By The Sea – By the Sea (The Great Pop Supplement/Del’Orso) With shoegazing and dream pop terms that are currently on many people’s lips, By the Sea’s eponymous debut album sets the standard for any music placed in that bracket vertiginously high. A nine song statement of intent, the Wirral six-piece capitalise on their preceding singles by furthering the luminous sound patented on those cuts while expanding their sonic palette.

In thrall to early nineties shoegazers Slowdive and The House of Love along with the bucolic psych pop of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynki and Super Furry Animals, the FX pedal shimmer of the band’s tri-pronged guitar section dextorously works their way round the songs without ever getting tangled.

Produced and mixed by former lead guitarist for The Coral Bill Ryder-Jones, and the band in various locations across Merseyside, it seems incredible to think the group have arrived at their luxurious, deep-pile sound on their first outing. With the vocals slightly submerged in the mix to provide another texture to the overall sound, lyricist Liam Power’s talent for crafting memorable lyrical vignettes demands the listener’s attention.

Fans of US poet Robert Frost, best known for his 1922 work Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, the New England native famed for his depictions of Rural America finds a Transatlantic echo in the sun dappled drift of Dreamwaters, "We’ll drift across the palisades/And make our way back home another day" evoking the band’s base on the Wirral Peninsula. Eveline, the peak of the band’s achievements so far the thudding bassline and unison guitar/vocal melody framing the intriguing lyrical twists, "I’m just a treasure trove of lies/I’m see-through like the skies" and the most memorable image on the album "Cherry blossom pavements all lead back to you".

As proven by the iridescent guitar arpeggio of A Sail Floats, chiming like a missing track from the Cocteau Twins’ Treasure and the whimsical Waltz Away, the lightness of touch displayed by the six musicians is amazing, deftly arranged so as none of the players sound as though they are competing against each other. The exquisite, all too brief Alone Together, a score draw with Eveline for their best moment so far, compresses the requisite traditional song structure into two and a half minutes of gorgeous noise that demands repeat plays from the first hearing.

The incantatory Game of Circles, backed by swelling church organ and glacial guitar soundscapes, brings matters to a close, the music matching the title as the slowly loping rhythm and submerged guitar soundscapes bring early Sigur Rós to mind. Designed as an album best heard on vinyl with its concise nine song tracklisting and 33 minute running time the LP demonstrates despite some commentators debating whether the artform as a whole is going into decline, rumours of the album’s demise in 2012 have been greatly exaggerated.

And with 2013 now in sight and the End of Year lists being compiled, By the Sea’s first outing clearly ranks as one of 2012s best.