Saturday, 28 November 2015

Review: Seas Of Mirth - Esmerelda EP [2015]

  From the murky waters of Nottingham comes the pirate themed folk band, Seas Of Mirth, who have been..err..making waves (sorry) in the music scene for some years now.

While I was living and studying in Derby, I remember seeing Seas Of Mirth at a very early stage with what I believe is almost a completely different line-up to now. The fiddler was a friend of mine from class. I can't remember if it was the same time, but two other "future" friends were also in the band and are there to this day.
  I never really got the whole pirate theme thing and I am not a fan of folk in general but the band's sense of humour still grabs me. Having grown to a nine piece band, consisting of instruments such as cello, accordion and bouzouki (!), they are still active 8 years, which is both admirable and impressive. 

  The Esmerelda EP, the band's latest offering, delivers 3 different tracks of their weird signature style of folk. The title and leading track is quite a romantic sounding song. Bearing in mind the band's persona and theme and paying closer attention to the lyrics, it seems to be more of an ode from a pirate to his wench. It still has a sea shanty vibe that the band are known for due to the violin and vocals but with an added spaghetti western rhythm. The vocals, sung by Fruitshoot Pete, bring to mind that of Nick Cave, especially in the softly sung parts of the verses.
  The EP changes pace with Hands Off My Chest. As soon as it begins with an a cappella voice declaring " will never get your hands on my treasure chest", you know this is going to be a fun song. It bounces along in an almost ska punk way, at times, but ultimately has a very Zappa feel. The midway change not only brings to mind Zappa but also Mr Bungle, as it explores jazz and progressive rock. 
  Final track, Even A Bull Needs Milking, has a catchy accordion hook (first time I've written that sentence) along with a galloping, early Broadway type rhythm a la Putting On The Ritz. The mixed male and female vocals are pretty and the musicianship is spot on, but the song generally isn't as punchy as the previous two, even when it goes frantic. 
  Compared to previous releases, the production on this record is immaculate and proves that the band really mean business. They're obviously going to make some people scratch their heads but seeing as folk stylings made a comeback with the likes of Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, there is certainly more of an audience now who will respect Seas Of Mirth's direction and musical experimentation. I'll certainly be looking forward to the next album. 


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