Seablite’s debut album, “Grass Stains and Novocaine,” delivers eleven tracks of pure adrenaline-fueled pop colonized by buzzing rhythm guitars and pinging telegraph-key leads. The songs drench the listener in an aural dichotomy, as airy vocals are lightly layered over a gesso-covered canvas of solid sound to paint wispy clouds across a shimmering surface. The voices are mixed in the background, conveying not the lyrics but a potential presence, sweet Sirens singing into a distant microphone to draw a sailor seeking solace onto the sharp shoals of the thrashing guitars.
The album opens with “Won’t You,” a gentle conversation in the guise of an anthemic rocker. The track is a hurricane, guitars and drums blasting away while the singer stands alone in the solitude of the storm’s eye. Plenty of power follows, in tracks such as “Lollipop Crush,” “Heart Mountain,” and “Polygraph.”
The group creates its best work in “Pillbox, “Haggard,” “House of Papercuts,” and “I Talk to Frogs,” when the harmonies are piled high, lyrical lines intertwining, a late-sixties vocal group backed by a Gen Z garage band. The result is sharply fresh but vaguely nostalgic, the feeling of opening a book so new that the parting of the pages causes its spine to crack, and finding there a lost letter from a long-forgotten lover.
“(He’s A) Vacuum Cleaner” and “There Were Only Shadows” form the album’s meridian, the songs that in an earlier age would guide the needle through the final track of Side One and into the opening groove of Side Two. The tracks are stylistically distinct from the others, a bit jazzier, slightly plaintive. “(He’s A) Vacuum Cleaner” is notably adventurous, a mass of hallucinogenic vocals over a suite-like arrangement that stretches out for a full four minutes.
Seablite self-describes as “4-piece odd pop from San Francisco.” The band comprises Lauren Matsui (guitar, vocals, synth), Galine Tumasyan (bass, vocals), Jen Mundy (lead guitar), and Andrew Brush (drums). Seablite has been gaining traction, playing steadily in the Bay Area over the past eighteen months. Their current tour will carry them farther afield, into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. If the songs on “Grass Stains and Novocaine” are an indicator, Seablite should be a live act worth staying up late to see.
“Grass Stains and Novocaine” appears on Emotional Response Records of Flagstaff, Arizona. Check out the label’s other artists on their website, and by following Emotional Response on Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.