Album Review: The Sea and Cake Set Sail in A New Direction with Any Day

The Sea and Cake return with their 11th full length release, Any Day, following 2012’s Runner. After the departure of bassist Eric Claridge, the newfound trio have crafted a beautiful, intimate record that blends elements of their roots with a pointedly new direction. There is a notable sense of equilibrium and confidence that reveal just how much the group’s sound has developed over the past decade.

The opening track “Cover the Mountain” is decidedly energetic and upbeat featuring different vocalizations and an emphasis on melody that are arguably pop-oriented. Sam Prekop’s vocals have generally trended toward free-form and stream of consciousness in the past, but he’s opened up with less ambiguous lyrics, opting for a slightly more transparent way of storytelling.

In addition to telling stories through music, Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt both have backgrounds in visual art which lends itself to the meticulous placements of accents and colorful melodies that are added with intent during the creation process. Because of this, every riff and line throughout the record is executed in a careful yet natural method of arrangement.

This multifaceted approach to creating has had a noticeable impact on the latest album. Compared to past releases, Any Day is rooted in traditional instrumentation rather than world, synth, and experimental sounds. While those elements are certainly still present, they are now implemented in a cohesive style of composition along with the newer musical elements.

The single “Any Day” in particular feels aptly named as if it’s the sonic representation that they’ve arrived at a point that has been long awaited. It’s a sweet yet mournful song full of yearning and poetic lyrics that are blissfully disjointed. The title track features Paul Von Mertens on flute and clarinet and Nick Macri on double bass that add warmth and depth to the gentle, folksy guitars.

Tracks like “I Should Care,” “Paper Window,” and “Into Rain” briefly deviate for a return to the familiar, post-jazz influences that are reminiscent of earlier albums such as their self-titled debut as well as The Biz.

“These Falling Arms” closes the album with a breezy, somewhat somber vibe–equally thoughtful and powerful–a perfect ending for the culmination of expansion and embracing new horizons.

Overall, Any Day is a succinct and focused step in a new direction from the Chicago music scene veterans that dares to keep innovating. Long time fans can still indulge in Prekop’s signature breathy vocals and distinct jazz influences, but also revel in a touch more pop and high-quality production. It’s a refreshing change that assures fans that although their sound has evolved, their roots have not been forgotten.

The Sea and Cake‘s new album, Any Day will be released on Friday, May 11th. You can pre-order the album on Thrill Jockey or Bandcamp. The Sea and Cake will also have two hometown performances at the Empty Bottle album release show on May 23rd, closing out their U.S. run before embarking on the European leg of their tour. Tickets are still currently available for both the early show at 7pm and the late show at 10pm for $18 in advance through Eventbrite, or $20 at the door.