In the years since OK Computer the influence of Radiohead has increased dramatically. Since 1997 there are a considerable number of artists that have drawn influence from it. Pitchfork called it the best album of the past 15 years and virtually anyone who knows anything about music considers it to be Radiohead’s most influential album in terms of electronic music, indie music and the direction of alternative music. It is the most influential album of the last 20 years and did more for music than any album since Nirvana’s Nevermind.
That influence is evident when you listen to Sea Wolf’s new album Old World Romance. In this, his third full length album, Alex Brown Church changes it up a bit with sanguine musicianship, but biting lyrics. As in the song “Priscilla”, one of my favorites on the album, Church sings in the chorus:
So Priscilla this is important
Time to tell us, this is important
No goodbyes and no time for mourning
Now we’ll see what this love is for
There’s a cynicism about this record that wasn’t on or maybe I haven’t noticed from Sea Wolf’s other albums. I actually find that cynicism refreshing in a self-loathing sort of way. I tend to lean towards more ethereal complexities than the simple pop albums or the electro garbage that permeates the ether these days. I’m searching for something on the horizon that has traces of brilliance, something that can stand the test of time and isn’t going to be relegated to fad status.
Sea Wolf accomplishes something, in that he makes us bring up bands like the aforementioned Radiohead and the Shins. When James Mercer collaborated with Danger Mouse on their side project Broken Bells we witnessed a new wrinkle in their style. Danger Mouse has never been pigeonholed into one genre anyway, but Mercer, as front man for the Shins has been. We all took notice when the seemingly odd couple worked together to create a fantastic album. That same principle can be used with Alex Church.
When Church left Irving, so many years ago, it was a step in the right direction forming Sea Wolf as a project to create the style of music he wanted. Each album has furthered that pursuit, but with this latest album there is a maturity, but also a jaded edge and moreover an insistence. He says it in “Priscilla”, “This is important” almost pleading, almost yelling at Priscilla to pay attention to answer the question he so desperately wants answered to save a love that she is determined to fritter away.
When Radiohead made OK Computer we all thought that was it, there’s no sense making another album, because this is the pinnacle of achievement. Then Kid A came out and we ate our words. To date this is Sea Wolf’s finest album, but I almost want to resist giving it too much praise. This is the album we’ve been waiting for him to make and yet I feel he has an even greater album up his sleeve. This is Sea Wolf’s OK Computer, but realize, while listening to his grand achievement of a record, that he has yet to release his Kid A.
Sea Wolf’s album and tour dates are available here.
Here is the first song off Old World Romance from Dangerbird Records:
Old Friend – Sea Wolf