Sea When Absent shows a marked improvement basically everywhere, but the strongest evidence is in giving their melodies and vocals clarity to grow and have impact. They've eased up on the reverb, and while effects are still rich in the production, the processed guitar noise has taken more of a backseat to synth-based songwriting.
Both "Golden Waves" and "Crushin'," for instance, are a perfect representation of the monogenre model, melding the R&B slow jam and beatific vocals with shoegaze effects and some of their strongest pop moments yet. Vocalist Jen Goma is the real difference maker; her voice floats like Liz Fraser's on the elegiac "Never Nothing (It's Alright [It's Ok])" and tenderly steers the crashing, guitar-driven "Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)."
Hopefully ASDIG will never give in completely to conventional songwriting, because it's the little idiosyncrasies that make their expansive music so breathtaking — which, incidentally, really is the best word to describe Sea When Absent. (Lefse)