The Sea: The Boats Are in the Bay

Let's first lay to rest any confusion surrounding the connections between The Sea and The Boats. Though The Boats is comprised of Andrew Hargreaves and The Remote Viewer's Craig Tattersall, and though The Sea is peopled by singer Esker (Elaine Reynolds) and instrumentalists Bernd Hamblin and Berling Yeoman, the two outfits' shared MySpace page reveals The Sea to be Esker plus The Boats (making Hamblin and Yeoman aliases, one presumes). Having laid that to rest, let's shift the focus to The Sea's first formal album release, which follows on the heels of three by The Boats. Not surprisingly, The Boats Are in the Bay, released on Pandatone's Music Related imprint, perpetuates the soothing electronic-lullaby style heard on The Sea's Moteer trio, with the key difference the presence of Reynolds' sawing violin and vocal whispers (need I mention she appears on two of The Sea's releases too?).

In sleepy meditations like “My Daydream Ran Out of Time” and “No More Wasting Chances,” Hargreaves and Tattersall dust off a mini-orchestra of battered and broken instruments and then coax creaky melodies from them that nicely support Reynolds' fragile quiver. Drums gently pitter-patter alongside ghostly traces of accordion, piano, vibes, banjo, horns, and melodica. The Boats Are in the Bay's arrangements and songs are strongly reminiscent of Múm, though there's little commonality between Reynolds' singing and that of the Icelandic group's. The Sea's ‘drowsy' sound is organic and intimate, and the album's vibe is atmospheric and nostalgic, though the epic, dramatic closer “Inko” works itself into a passionate, eleven-minute lather that comes as a surprise when pretty much everything before it is so purposefully low-key by comparison.

August 2007