The Beep Seals

Things That Roar

You’d never guess The Beep Seals were from Manchester. If you were picking which west side they’re from you’d probably think more LA than Levenshulme. They are a band with a seriously sunny disposition, and a mid-Atlantic sound to match, several hundred miles from Manchester’s famously slate-gray skies.

Their debut album Things That Roar is a distinctly presentable record, warm of tone and sweet of harmony; the kind of album you could take home to meet your parents. It touches on The Delgados’ grand, melodic sound and Dodgy’s perky indie-rock, with some classic pop references in there too, bits of Beatles and Beach Boys. Plonking pianos and plucked strings inhabit familiar verse-chorus-verse structures. The harmless faux-psychedelic lyrics come from the Noel Gallagher "sink is full of fishes" school of rhyme.

But there’s some heavyweight competition around when it comes to picking up threads left trailing by classic bands of the past, and Beep Seals drive a lot closer to the middle of the road than, say, Of Montreal or Panda Bear. For all the talk of 60s influences, ultimately ‘Things That Roar’ sounds like it belongs firmly in the 1990s. This is wholesome, comfortable, and wholly unchallenging music. And while there’s obvious quality in the musicianship and production, there’s not a single moment where you’ll be taken by surprise.

All of which leaves me wondering where their psychedelic credentials are based on. ’She Sells Sea Shells’ is closer to FM Britpop than the wide-eyed skygazing of The Flaming Lips’ Clouds Taste Metallic (an album cited as an influence in the band’s blog). For such a purportedly ambitious outfit, Things That Roar has long passages that are noticeably low on thrills.

But there’s a lot to be said for respectable, well-heeled indie records. ‘I Dreamt a Metal Hat’ is a decent solar-powered pop song, the title track is a pleasingly slight electric folk morsel, and ‘Such a Bloody Pain’ is a fitting parting-shot sing-along. For those who don’t want to be swept off their feet this summer but rather wooed with mild-mannered melodies, this could be the album for you.

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