The Sea and Cake - Runner (Thrill Jockey)

The Sea and Cake are something of an established name in indie-rock circles (since 1994, the band have released ten albums, with singer Sam Prekop adding a further three as a solo artist); yet the band has never had – nor appeared to chase – widespread commercial recognition. The Sea and Cake are the type of band where the devil is in the detail – the lack of clear hooks and choruses is more than made up for by sophisticated, intelligent songs. Runner is no exception to much of the band's back catalogue in this respect; the sunny, jazz-influenced, guitar-led sound which the band has honed over the past two decades remains firmly intact here.

Released Sep 27th, 2012 via Thrill Jockey / By Adam Bunn
The Sea and Cake - Runner (Thrill Jockey) Following in quick succession from last year's concise The Moonlight Butterfly, much of Runner is the sound of a band invigorated, but whose music nevertheless remains the aural equivalent of a favourite autumn sweater. The album starts briskly (relatively speaking) with 'On and On', powered back a chugging, almost motorik bassline, before second track - and album highlight - 'Harps' settles the band back into more familiar territory, with a minute-plus of gradually-building sequenced beats before Prekop's dreamy vocals kick in. 'Harbour Bridges', meanwhile, finds the band taking a sentimental nod to the end of summer.

The Sea and Cake - On And On

Parts of the album suffer from a greater degree of anonymity, and the final third of Runner has fewer stand-out moments until the dreamy, blissed-out title track draws the album to a close. Without exception though, the songs are light and airy, retaining an almost effortless feel to them, and the reflective, more ambient-influenced moments on the album are generally the strongest. As summer eases into autumn, Runner's sound is one of seasonal transition. Whilst being no big departure from much of the band's previous material, alongside recent reissues of their equally-charming back catalogue (2003's One Bedroom being a particular highlight), there is much here that warrants repeated listening.

Listen to Runner on Spotify below.