Of all the so-called ‘futurepop’ bands – which, lets be honest, was only ever the softer, more melodic end of the EBM spectrum – only Seabound over the past few years have been really that interesting. Rather than taking the usual route of dancefloor anthems that are all surface, and no feeling, with an illusion of emotion, they appear to be the real deal. The odd song from the first two albums was a dancefloor filler – Hooked and Poisonous Friend, of course – but there was always the feeling that the slower songs were always the strongest.
Listen on: Spotify
The new album proves this in spades. There isn’t really a single dancefloor track on the album (although the limited edition does include a cracking ‘Club’ version of The Promise on a second CD), but then, there doesn’t need to be. Things start very well with the sweeping elegance of Scorch The Ground, in a much changed version to the one initially released on Septic VI. It builds and builds gradually, until the punch of the chorus takes you off your feet, before all the layers are stripped away and we are left with nothing again. The Promise follows that and picks up the theme of the entire album – that of deceit, betrayal and mistrust. At points the sheer haze of the emotions that come across threaten to engulf entire songs, including this one, but time and again they somehow pull back from the brink with a shimmering chorus.
It then takes a turn for the darker with the unusually-titled Doubleplusungood, the narrator apparently unable to let go of a brief encounter from the past, to an almost funereal beat whose mood is lightened only by the twinkling electronics going on behind. The mood is lifted a little by Sapphire, which hints at a darkness within, while Domination picks up the pace before the album stops in it’s tracks. An uptempo track, the subject this time is a dark sexual experience, and the hissed, seething vocals scream revenge and desire. The bridge particularly makes the hairs on your neck prickle.
The short, pretty instrumental Every Last Grain feels an extended intro into Castaway, which is perhaps the best track on the album. Another long, languid ballad, this time centred around a quite creepy obsession, yet again with a quite extraordinary chorus. After this extended section of darkness, the light suddenly shines through with October Song, which feels, on the face of it, a lot sunnier in outlook. Traitor (another track that has been released in a different version before) slams the door firmly shut, the lyrics and vocals again frothing with hatred. Final track Breathe takes forever to get going (it is eight-minutes-plus in length), but is another rather good track when it eventually does, perpetuating the mood that has held for the previous forty-five minutes.
And as Breathe peters out, you are left with an uncomfortable silence. Just how can Seabound possibly follow this? They have made their best album so far by some distance – while both previous albums had some stunning individual songs, neither had such a cohesive narrative and theme that sweeps this album on. With a couple of exceptions, it may well prove difficult for individual songs to make headway on the dancefloor, but who cares? This is an album that is so insular – and here, it is no bad thing – it may just be best to enjoy it on your own anyway.