By The Sea: By The Sea debut album first listen


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By The Sea release their eponymous debut later this month, Getintothis’ gives you the lowdown on one of Liverpool’s most hotly-anticipated albums.

It doesn’t seem like two minutes since Getintothis was swept away in By The Sea‘s slipstream back at the Bluecoat.
Those early shows found a band almost apologetic in their naive, Bambi-finding-her-feet ways, yet in amongst Liam Power‘s bashful pleas for the audience to bear with them while they tuned up, was a band who anyone that was there was all too aware that something special was already working away. We were paying attention alright.
Subsequent gigs showed a band eager to move away from the trappings associated with many a Liverpool band as they consummately eased into a new-found sound and easy-going nature which belied their years.
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With the arrival of debut single Dreamwaters, there was a sense they’d not only come good on that early potential but struck upon something extra; infusing the classic touchstones of rock and roll they’d managed to transform into a band which had as much in common with Atlas Sound, DIIV or Ride as they had with their Merseypop contemporaries.
And in producer, Bill Ryder-Jones, they’d found a sterling captain to steer their maiden voyage.
At this point, we’ll have to fess up. This isn’t Getintothis‘ first listen at all. Because the first listen raced by so fast we’d listened to it almost a dozen times before really listening to it. Such is By The Sea‘s completeness you’ll find it whisks through your being in no time at all.
This is one of those rare debut records were you feel a band has hit upon something which can’t be repeated – because they won’t even know how. But what’s to come isn’t worth speculating, for now, sit tight and wait until November 12.
Here’s what’s going down inside By The Sea
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1. By The Sea: Starting as they mean to go on, Power’s velvety vocal ushers you into By The Sea‘s richly textured swirling oceanic world of softly plucked Mark Jackson guitar, humming undercurrents of Joe Edwards‘ organ swell and gentle soars of ambience. A sweeping first movement.
2. Dreamwaters: Lead single, Dreamwaters, typifies what By The Sea do best – lull you in with nearly-there hooks, half-whispers of harmonies and delicate blankets of lush percussion. It’s over a minute before the tune kicks but when it does you’re drowning in a rush, powerless to prevent the ride. Like The Stone RosesThe Hardest Thing In The World this mini pop nugget will have you reaching for the repeat button over and over.
3. So Long, So Far: A stunner on the live circuit, and like Dreamwaters, opens with little fanfare, just a simple tripping of dancing guitar lines, Power’s hushed vocal and light toms, when once again there’s a steady release of West Coast harmonics and instant singalong melodies. Far from sounding indistinct, So Long, So Far completes an opening salvo which will have you hooked. Lap it up.
4. Eveline: The b-side to Dreamwaters, a slight change in pace and the track which shows how much they’ve grown as songwriters from those early shows.
Epic, yet understated. Monumental, yet restrained. A track with depth and clever orchestration (producer Bill Ryder-Jones deserves a big nod here in particular) for making something so rich sound so effortless.
Incidentally, check how sub-human Power’s incomprehensible refrains are – rivalling Michael Stipe Murmur-era for their tone over singing approach – great for guess the lyrics games round the in-laws at Christmas.
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5. Waltz Away: The album’s centre-piece could have dropped straight off a Byrds classic. Every bit ‘Liverpool’ in its sound, Waltz Away, begins like a chiming pageant of kaleidoscopic colour making hairs stand on end before collapsing in on itself and taking a momentary back seat. But it’s not long before we’re whisked away into By The Sea‘s coastal wonderland. Stunning.
6. A Sail Floats…: Another track which can’t help recall The Roses, from it’s Squire-like guitar, the oozing Brown strut behind Power’s delivery but most of all the iridescent lustre which shimmers throughout showcasing Daniel O’Connell (bass) and Andy Royden (drums) washed out rhythms which help power this gliding vessel to it’s magical conclusion.
7. Wait A Day: Recalling Bradford Cox‘s Deerhunter at their tremolo-infused best. At two minutes in a lovely little dreamy segue wakes you from the tide of dancing beats and chopping guitar motifs.
8. Alone Together: At just over two minutes, the shortest and most poppy number on By The Sea – a blink and you’ll miss it swirl of sugar-coated breathy melodica with the added bonus of some underwater keys gurgling thrown in for good measure.
9. Game Of Circles: It’s a word we’ve used before to describe By The Sea, but Game Of Circles is so luxurious in it’s heavenly somnambulance.
Drizzled in organ, Power’s vocal takes you by the arm and slow dances you inside the final chapter – a waltz amid finely honed guitars, glistening organ and expertly diced percussive chops and thwacks. The last sound is of Royden’s kit – a stern, wooden crack almost a surrealistic twist to awaken you from 33 minutes of dreamlike bliss.
By The Sea is released via Dellorso on November 12. Pre-order here.