(New Album Review) Seahawks- Paradise Freaks

Seahawks’ new release, Paradise Freaks, sees them shuffling a little closer to poptones, if at least for the moment.

I’ve really enjoyed just about every single offering from the Seahawks so far. They’ve just got their own thing going, and it’s hard to sum that up in some kind of pithy phrase. You could say that they specialize in psychedelic relaxation instrumentals that I find to be extremely delicious…I was expecting more of the same here. However, this new album has many vocal features– Maria Minerva, Tim Burgess, Indra Dunis, and Nick Nicely all show up to contribute. In this sense, Paradise Freaks seems to be a bit of a detour from their usual style.

Seahawks’ (Jon Tye and Pete Fowler) albums are usually made up of long-form spacey, droney dubs, with ethereally echoing whispers and saxophones, among other vague samples purloined from 70’s yacht rock, probably attracting many fans of chillwave and vaporwave. It’s hard to pin a genre to Seahawks– there’s a bit of the “relax, man” obsession with reverb and dream of chillwave in there, and a bit of the distanced, arch-intellectual hauntology  of vaporwave too. This group’s general vibe tends to evoke something dubwise, but they’re definitely firmly of their time in as far as there’s also a fair amount of stylistic solidarity with all the spacey laptop music issuing from all these vaguely defined, “often misdiagnosed” idioms out there…

Paradise Freaks is really lovely, and the duo’s decision to make an album with so many vocal features has produced an album of a really weird stripe of space-age pop, yet they have not completely compromised their style. Just as with their older stuff, this new album is a dreamlike tropical fantasy in which a minute can seem to extend to ten. The vocal features reverberate in and out of the mix with grace and mystery. The songs, even the two instrumentals, are not long-form expeditions, mind you, however, they’re in that same nostalgic, gentle style as Seahawks’ past offerings. If you want to get a taste of this nicely refined new album’s sound in one song, check “Moon Turn Tides”, which has a vocal feature from Maria Minerva. Yeah, I didn’t like this nearly as much as Invisible Sunrise, but it’s another fine offering from a very fine group, and it seems to promise a slightly different direction! I wonder where they’ll take me next.

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