The Sea and Cake Oui

Unlike Shrimp Boat, the Cocktails and Tortoise, bands that planted the seeds for the Sea and Cake, you know what you're going to get with a Sea and Cake album. This isn't a criticism, it's just that vocalist Sam Prekop, guitarist Archer Prewitt, bassist Eric Claridge and percussionist/producer John McEntire are honing their recipe for subtle beauty with each progressive album and no musical curiosity will divert them from their honourable goal. Though their fifth album, Oui, comes after a three-year hiatus, the time seems to have further defined the band's sublime sound. New textures, like strings and wind instruments come into play and the electronic beats have been pulled back, but the basic elements remain Prekop's understated vocals, McEntire's contemporary programmed and live rhythms, Prewitt's lulling guitars and Claridge's toasty warm bass lines. The combination produces a calming purity, like the perfect drug, it is a singular sound of sheer bliss. Credit must go to McEntire's tactful mixing, which gives this album its non-dissectable sound. Call it slo-mo soul or contemporary easy listening, the fact is that this pop music is often so delicate sometimes it seems like it's not there at all. Even though the band's strongest melodies might be found on their previous albums, save for the awesome album closer, "I Missed A Glance," I would still guess that Oui is required listening in heaven. Why wait? (Thrill Jockey)