Sea Oleena - Sea Oleena
It is nauseating. Admit it. How can the opener of this album not be experienced in this kind of way? Nauseating. Twirling, swirling, whirling. Spin. Spin. Spin. Flowers. Flowers. Flowers. Neither the band name, nor the album title, nor the track title and especially not the cover artwork are a preparation for this. Somehow this forceful intrusion upon the innocent and presumably unsuspecting listener is something uncalled for, yet still somewhat charming. Nauseatingly nice. Nauseatingly good. It is quite a way to kick it off on the "debut" release, but maybe it is as well to do so. Why keep it slow and steady and rather subdued, if you can attempt to "overwhelm" the fan so to speak. As it is commonly said, the first impression is the one that counts and that tends to last. Well, why not start it off like this?
Sadly, it is not a merry dance that is celebrated on this first track, even though it feels like it. A "Swimming Story" is the topic at hand and judging from the sound and style, no sharks had to be fought off. Instead the listener is able to witness/experience an ever increasing as well as an evermore carefree atmosphere with each passing second/minute. At first the sound is a bit uncertain and a little minimalist: vague textures, a constant or rather repetitive play of the guitar. A voice enters, then another layer on top of it and so on and so forth. Once acclimated to the environment, drums and a bass guitar enter and the steady flow of the track really kicks off. Especially the play of the bass guitar might encourage people to take a spin and twirl or swirl or whirl around. This would be a core aspect of this band that is actually revealed in this opener and it touches on a dominant idea behind the song-writing of Sea Oleena. The music is more about atmosphere and less about strict adherence to what is an "established" form of structuring a song. Somehow it is indicated in the title as well: a "Swimming Story". By interpreting too much into it, one can point towards this as an overarching idea in the style of the band. Each to his or her own style. Each to his or her own way. Staying afloat and not getting subdued; it is not a "drowning story" after all -- yes, a very bad joke.
Anyway, most of the other tracks follow in a similar fashion with the exception of "And", grammatical conjunction deemed on this album a part of a musical conjunction, as well as "Lull", which lulls the listener into sleep. Leaving these two aside then, most of the other tracks have a similar direction and sound. Sometimes a bit more playful, sometimes a bit more melodic, sometimes a bit more unpredictable. Those tracks are steady, have a soothing atmosphere, flow gently along and leave the person with a impression of piece and calmness. Guitars, a bass, drums/beats, sounds and the voice of Charlotte Oleena. Generally speaking, it is easy-going stuff that does demand little attention due to the way it sound and progresses. Similar to a chocolate bar it may satisfy a certain need, but it is unable to thoroughly satisfy your hunger or appetite.
Sadly, the track "Little Army" is not able to make a difference.
With over seven minutes in length, it is not only the longest track on this recording, but it would also be the one that attempts to stand out a bit. In style and sound it contains the ingredients that have been discussed above, while in presentation it is somewhat strange but nevertheless fascinating. With an intriguing text as well as some odd rhythmical noise effects, it is oddly captivating and it stands out because of it. The juxtaposition of a comparably uplifting motif in the guitar and those stark noises as a counterpoint differ from the harmonic and clear cut way of the rest of the album. Maybe the sound effects are a representation of the "little army" that the songs talks about, a reflection of the nuisance that Charlotte has to deal with; if you look at the lyrics one realizes that matters are a bit more complicated.
Basically the cover artwork says it all: a bit blurry, not too focussed on a single element, a mixture of facets and generally loaded with a friendly atmosphere. Nothing to worry here, just a calm set of songs. While this would actually cover everything, the first three releases -- Smudges, Sea Oleena and Sleeplessness -- have something in common: their cover artworks show references of each other. Somehow ideas of Smudges -- the first output -- can be found on Sea Oleena, while the Sleeplessness one has hints of the aforementioned one. Shallow would mark a break though ... but maybe it is best not to continue on all paths.
Pop, maybe bits of post-rock, presumably alternative, definitely not conventional.