Under Review: Sea Wolf – White Water, White Bloom

If you ask me, Alex Brown Church was taken advantage of during the recording sessions for the new Sea Wolf album.  It’s hard to tell who’s to blame for White Water, White Bloom’s relative meh-ness: could it be producer Mike Mogis, who (unsurprisingly) makes everything, including Church’s vocals, sound like a Bright Eyes record?  Is it the bigger band that intrudes on what should be album-saving quiet moments?  Is it Church himself, who bled his pen dry when writing his stellar debut?  No matter who is at fault, there are still a few redeeming bits scattered throughout the disc.  Opening with “Wicked Blood,” a song about a house catching fire set to an acoustic “Common People” pulse, White Water, White Bloom suggests itself as a more rocking counterpart to Leaves In The River.  But what Leaves had that White Water doesn’t is contrast.  “O Maria” is downright bangy and the strings on “Orion & Dog” cripple what could have otherwise been a much-needed intimate tune.  There are hints of great arranging here, as “The Orchard” slowly builds into a mid-tempo piece and “Spirit Horse” evokes the haunting dread that drove Leaves In The River.  Overall, White Water, White Bloom might have been an okay debut, but following Church’s stellar LP and EP, the record just doesn’t stand up.  Perhaps, with the next album, Church will record the tracks by himself, without any intruding producers or musicians.  Only then might he be able to recapture the tender brood of his early material.

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~ by E. on September 28, 2009.

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