Coming from Nottingham, UK, this band sounds obstinately unfashionable
and somehow very English, combining bitterly sung pastoral folk reveries
with splintered no-wave guitar and brittle-hard rock. Dan Eastop has
a great non-singer's voice, hectoring and cynical, but with an undertow
of romanticism. The band behind him is able to play with fierce intensity,
moving from pulsating tension to a raging maelstrom of sound. They don't
always sound consistent on this debut, occasionally misfiring with underworked
material, but overall the strengths overshadow any weaknesses, and when
they truly hit their stride they're devastatingly effective.
"Anglokana" sets out their manifesto: a guitar pulse offset by violin establishes
a mournful air with a hint of menace before the music cuts out, then explodes
back into life with unexpected violence. "News From Nowhere" is wordier, its
confessional tone partially obscured by oblique lyrics. In it Eastop describes
social inertia "Spent years on long-term sick in a terraced house in town"
and evokes a kind of monochromatic dullness, but does so with insistent, jabbing
vocals twinned with the music's urgency.
"Glitterball" has a streamlined, melancholic narrative punctuated by outbursts
of volcanic intensity. Mixed in with this is a fragile volatility and a lyrical
vagueness: you feel Eastop is angry about something, but it's not always clear
what. And again there's a sense of grainy reality being sketched in, with a cinematic
sensibility: "She lost her nerve/ For a Sixties moment/ Lights flashing across
the dancefloor." It's all very gauche and not a little self-conscious, but by
sheer, dogged insistence the band carries it off.
And if the sardonic, poetic conceits of "The Nightwatch" prove a little to much to bear, then the fuzzy, fired-up, angular rock 'n' roll of "SF" clears the air with explosive results. Here there's no ambiguity as Eastop screams defiantly, "Got a bomb strapped to my heart/ Gonna blow you away" against an angry backing that sounds like the taut art-rock of Wire being shredded by a hardcore band.
With his scattershot lyrical viewpoint temporarily abandoned, Eastop takes on the role of preacher, ranting semi-coherently over antagonistic guitar and a sonorous, PIL-style groove on "Do It Again," then exhorting to the point of overload at the climax to "Come On Sister." Here the music starts as a rough-edged ballad with a seesaw queasiness gnawing at its fringes, before building up in intensity. Somewhere along the way it seems to aim too high and fall short, but the band plows on regardless, speeding up and finally nailing it at the finish with a combustible outburst of energy.
Uneven but compelling, Seachange seem out of place but grimly determined,
fragile yet aggressive, with a petulant anger fueling their music. They at least
demand a response, positive or negative, rather than bland indifference, and
this album is quite possibly a flawed masterpiece.