Sea Wolf Leaves in the River

When the album opener sounds like it could have been a B-side from a Bright Eyes Christmas album, what do you expect to hear next? How about something that sounds like the soundtrack to a disco dance party scene from a French Western movie? Or mid-tempo biting of the Bravery garnished with cheesy strings? I could invent a drinking game around all the musical stereotypes comprising this exercise in genre pillaging. By the hokey sap of "The Rose Captain,” I felt like shoving live termites into my ears just for the sake of hearing something less predictable. An album of songs the Shins wouldn’t release on a B-sides disc is a terrifying prospect; luckily Sea Wolf saved the songs they put some effort into for the album’s last half. All the music is still obvious but not painfully so. From "Middle Distance Runner” onward, the songs have an authentic energy absent from the first half. Maybe an EP would have been wiser, though I still wouldn’t buy it. (Dangerbird)