By Eric Chavez
Add a dash of the dark electronica/pop of The Cure, then mix in some of the experimental dance beats of David Bowie, refresh it with some talent from today and you have yourself some Sealions. The Atlanta-based foursome have recently been taking over the local music scene with their new take on what it means to be an indie artist in Atlanta. A city known for its abundance of alternative rockers and hip-hop stars, the Sealions bring a fresh new sound to the scene.
It’s undeniable how influential the music of the ’80s has been on current artists, but with the Sealions, the music actually sounds like it could be played alongside a playlist of early Madonna and Human League and not sound out of place. Retro isn’t the word for it, perhaps homage?
Not a concept record, but Strange Veins does have a theme: “I Love the 80’s…A Lot!” Because of that, while it’s easy to call the album dated , it also becomes a strong contender for filler, something the band smartly avoids by filling the disc with sing-a-long harmonies and sharp production.
The band gets it the best when they channel their ’80s-disco side. Both Joey Pation and Jason Travis capture the true elements of their sound with their voice. Tracks like “Bellweather” blend the airy-pop of Erasure at their peak and the SAW production of Kylie Minogue in her beginnings. Perhaps the most infectious track of the bunch, it makes for the perfect night at the disco. That’s not to say the rest of the album is anything to skip, in fact the entire album takes in mind the dance sensibility that the ’80s provided much of. Some songs are more downtempo (“Apparition”) than others (such as “Islands”), but each and every track does have something for the dance floor.
“Quarter Moon” not only sounds like something David Bowie would have recorded during his “Ashes to Ashes”-era, but actually sounds better! But with all these influences, the one thing the band is missing in their music is warmth. While none of the tracks are sweet-n-low sweet, at times the music seems cold and calculated, with the production bordering on icy. No worries though, the band has much time to melt and let some emotion show.
Two decades after the ’80s are over, the sound still reigns supreme, the same way disco did in the ’90s and the way that house music will most likely made a comeback in the 2010s. Wait long enough and all music will come back in style, which is a good thing. Ten years isn’t long enough to enjoy a certain type of music and the Sealions are doing their part to let those who love the ’80s to continue to get into that groove.
Sealions play 529 on October 9. Tickets are available at the door.