Seabear - We Built a Fire - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Seabear - We Built a Fire

by Rich Morris Rating:5 Release Date:2010-03-01

Seabear are something of an Icelandic art scene supergroup. Starting life as the project of singer/multi-instrumentalist Sindri Már Sigfússon, the group has expanded to include various Icelandic musicians and visual artists. We Built a Fire is their second full-length album.

'Fey' is the word that immediately springs to mind when listening to this gossamer-light collection of DIY indie boy shuffling and tinkling sad-eyed lullabies. More than anything, Seabear sound like a more ethereal, bloodless Belle & Sebastian. The album's first two tracks, the chiming, brass-bolstered 'Lion Face Boy' and 'Fire Dies Down', which starts as a maudlin lament featuring piano, fiddle and theremin before breaking into a cantering rhythm, could easily find a place on Belle & Sebastian's first two albums, Tigermilk and If You're Feeling Sinister. Sigfússon's vocals also resemble no one as much as B&S main man Stuart Murdoch, with the odd Icelandic inflection in his wispy falsetto.

The problem here is that everything feels a little bit overly sincere and po-faced, which has the effect of robbing ballads like 'Cold Summer' of their beauty and making them something of a chore to listen to. None of Belle & Sebastian's sense of mischief, their wry humour, is evident in this track or faster-paced 'We Fell Off the Roof', which takes an age to get going. Instead, such inward-looking music, so caught up in its own emotions, comes across as a little bit adolescent. Still, We Built a Fire is a very pretty record to listen to, with excellent musicianship throughout, alongside varied and sometimes surprising instrumentation. But don't be surprised if, by the final song, you feel like giving Sigfússon a slap and telling him to snap out of it.

Richard Morris

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