Back in 2017, San Francisco odd-pop wonders, Seablite, caught the ear of many with their self-titled debut EP. The quartet have been keeping things fairly quite since then, but all that is set to change this week with the release of their debut album, Grass Stains & Novocaine, coming out on the Emotional Response label. Today ahead of that release we’ve got an exclusive first play of the entire record, and it’s well worth the wait.
Seablite’s sound is one that is heavily rooted in independent music history; with one foot in the original janglers of the 80’s indiepop scene, and another firmly in the fuzzy, disorienting world of shoegaze. Opening track, Won’t You is a perfect introduction, with just a squall of static as they hit their stride. Gentle, chiming vocals sit in contrast to the wall of noise and twangy lead-guitar line, as at times the words seem to get lost, engulfed in the all-encompassing noise and brightness of the music. It’s the sort of opening track that will have fans of Night Flowers or The Pain Of Being Pure At Heart, pricking their ears up in excited intrigue.
Elsewhere, the band flitter through an array of DIY influences, while sketching out a musical vision entirely their own. Pilbox is a more rambunctious and frenetic number in the mold of Literature; the guitars taking on a surfy quality, as the vocals are left keening with uncertainty, “where do we go? I don’t know”. There Were Only Shadows is all gothy intensity and pulsating bass, while Haggard might be the record’s breeziest moment, recalling the noisy-pop perfection of Expert Alterations.
Grass Stains & Novocaine hangs beautifully as a whole piece, with subtle changes of pace and mood throughout, without ever sounding like they’re being deliberately experimental. Despite the cohesive feel, there’s room for stand-outs, Heart Mountain has possibly the year’s best bass-line, recalling The Cure at their most swaggering, as well as delightful backing vocals that add a choral quality to the vocals, not so much enhancing the lead as acting like a shield of shyness and masking the band’s darkest lyrical secrets. The track is one half of the album’s brilliant centre-piece alongside the biggest departure, (He’s A) Vacuum Chamber. The track brings the inherent darkness in the band’s music to the fore; with glacial vocals, nodding to the likes of The Cocteau Twins or Blushing, pitched alongside ebbing guitar lines. The whole track breaks down to almost just percussion and vocal at one point, a primal witchy thrill, that Warpaint or Protection Spells would be proud of. Frankly, the only disappointment of the entire record is the lack of Percussion Frog on the otherwise excellent closing track, I Talk To Frogs.
You can listen to the whole of this wonderful album below, and then read on for the band taking us through a track-by-track run through of the album as a whole.
Track By Track
Won’t You: The more fuzzy and blown out we made this song, the more we liked it! I wrote this song a LONG time ago, but it never seemed to work. Once I brought this song to seablite, we added a lot of fuzz plus Andy’s vision for the drums really completed this song.
Pillbox: The general vibe for Pillbox is being stuck in a lucid dream. I like to joke with Galine that it’s about UFOs since she’s terrified of aliens… maybe it is, maybe it isn’t!
Lollipop Crush: Galine came up with the vocal melody for this song in a dream and we built it up from there. Recording this song was fun because it was the first time I really used a reverse reverb pedal.
Time is Weird: I wrote Time is Weird while on a European tour. I found all the hours of sitting in a van (with no cell service) watching the world speed past my window inspiring.
Heart Mountain: Heart Mountain is for my Grandma. Both of my Japanese American grandparents were in Internment camps during WWII. My grandmother was sent to Heart Mountain, Wyoming. I wrote this song based on a heart to heart we had about her experiences in the camps and what it was like once she was out.
(He’s a) Vacuum Chamber: The foundation of this song is a riff that runs through the first two thirds of the song. When I first started noodling with it, I fell in love with the way the riff was affected by the different chord progressions under it. Joel Gion (The Brian Jonestown Massacre) plays tambourine and maracas on this song.
There Were Only Shadows: I wrote the lyrics for this song while sitting in the shade in Golden Gate Park. I guess you could say it came from the shadows. Galine had originally thought about the bass riff running through the whole song, kind of Stoogesesque, but it grew into a more ethereal vibe once we started building on it.
Haggard: Galine and I liked the idea of dual vocals both singing the verses on this one. Joel Gion (The Brian Jonestown Massacre) plays tambourine on this song.
House of Papercuts: This is one of our more jangly songs. Galine plays this song with a capo on her bass. We had changed the key and she liked the way the open string was able to ring out, so she started using a capo. Paul McCartney did it so we figured we’d give it a shot! Joel Gion (The Brian Jonestown Massacre) plays tambourine on this song.
Polygraph: Polygraph is the second song Galine and I wrote together. We wrote it while sitting on her living room floor drinking tea. I know it sounds a lot more tough than that, Jen’s guitar riff is a scorcher!
I Talk to Frogs: A summer night, on the shore under the stars.
Grass Stains & Novocaine is out June 7th via Emotional Response. Click HERE for more information on Seablite.