By Jason Shoff
Seapony’s latest album, A Vision, finds the band at a turning point in their career. Once backed by an automated drum machine, the Seattle trio decided to add a live drummer, Aaron Voros, to the line-up, whose parts were recorded at legendary producer Jack Endino’s Soundhouse Studios. Subsequently, the rest of the album was recorded in a makeshift home studio, though A Vision doesn’t sound like it at all. Full of shimmering guitars, sunny melodies, and airy vocals, this is a text book definition of a summer record.
The addition of Voros seems to have done wonders for the band, especially when it comes to songwriting; which is something that even the band appears to realize, as they proclaim that A Vision features their “most fully-realized songs to date.” And it’s hard not to agree once you hear the opening track, “Saw the Light,” which sounds tailor-made for both radio airwaves and pool parties. Vocalist Jen Weildi’s vocals soar above the melody, yet simultaneously never drown out or overpower the rest of the band. It's a pretty nifty trick when you think about it; if you’re going to pick one song from the record to put on your summer playlist, make it this one.
It also sounds like Seapony have taken a page or two from R.E.M.’s bag of tricks, if not entire chapters. “Bad Dream” is quintessential Rickenbacker jangle rock, and musically you could sneak “Let Go” onto Document and no one would even notice. Other songs, like “Couldn’t Be” and should-be-single “Everyday All Alone” recall the sun-kissed indie pop of bands like The Sundays and Sixpence None the Richer that dominated radio throughout the 90s (and in a just world would still be a fixture on station playlists today).
That’s not to say that A Vision doesn’t offer up additional moods and sounds, as well. “Hollow Moon” brings a welcome acoustic folk vibe, “A Place We Can Go” is laced with a Farfisa organ-esque keyboard park, and “In Heaven” is laced with a layer of Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz. But there is still a certain element of sameness to the arrangements and production that, in the hands of a lesser band, would have made for a pretty monotonous album. Luckily for Seapony, the melodies and songwriting throughout are strong enough that the record is still engaging and captivating regardless.
So if you’re still looking for a summer soundtrack album, or an album that could potentially fill the void that R.E.M. has left in your heart, then you really should give A Vision a listen. And if they continue to grow as songwriters, and add a little more variety to their sound, Seapony could be a band you’ll be hearing about for a long time to come.