Seeland - Tomorrow Today [Loaf, 2009]

The past is alive and well, at least in the imaginations of Birmingham's Tim Felton and Billy Brainbridge, who have previously worked with the outstanding Broadcast and Plone, respectively. Having honed their skills at sonic homage, they conjure the geists of a number of different eras, the most prevalent being '80s synthpop, but cloaked in Radiophonic detritus that merits repeat listening. Imagine vintage Depeche Mode produced by Raymond Scott.

Kicking off with 'Burning Pages', probably the album's strongest track, a moody new-wave number with an insidiously catchy chorus, that gives way to the quirky post-punk of 'Hang On Lucifer', which is not as infernal as it sounds. Next up, they screw up the calendar pages some more with the hammock swinging Exotica of 'Colour Dream'. 'Turnaround' is more of a straight-forward track, that for some reason reminds me of flying through fluffy clouds on the back of a dragon. 'Captured' is upbeat guitar jangle, that should be on the soundtrack to a 'Grand Theft Auto' video game. 'Library' is a stand-out track, featuring baroque harpsichords, disrupting the sleek plastic momentum, and is surprisingly heart-felt.

'Goodbye' sounds like 'Sunday Morning' by the Velvet Underground as interpreted by Gary Numan. 'Static Object' sounds like New Order, and is curiously reminiscent of its title, with its unceasingly repetive beat. 'Station Sky' sounds like adolescent heart-break and 'Call the Incredible' is similarly innocent, but spices things up with some truly incredible synth odysseys. '5 a. m.' goes on for too long and is fairly forgettable. Finally, 'Pretty Bird' wraps up the set in a nice but anti-climactic fashion, although the touches of chorused guitar, electric piano, and fuzz bass sounds a tad more human, and hints at things to come.
'Tomorrow Today' succeeds best when it shows its human pulse; romantic interludes, bitterness, innocent charm. They are found most often in the vocals, which are mostly buried and monotonous, not the stand-out feature. Too often, the album falls prey to 'too much of a good thing', which is surprisingly accurate '80s synth excursions, delivered in a similar mood and at a similar tempo, which can make it a bit of a chore to make it to the end. Like much of the art of that period, it comes off as slick and glossy and shallow, like a geometric canvas hanging on a doctor's wall. Interesting to look at, but not that moving.

The attention to detail on and nuance is evident all over the place, and the talent of its creators is indisputable, but i'd like to see a little more heart and soul, a little more gristle on the plate.

J. Simpson

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Seeland - Tomorrow Today