Having missed The Sea Navy on their recent tour with Dave Bazan and Say Hi, I was unprepared for what I heard when I hit play. The first few quick-paced drumbeats from Jordan Cumming and the up-front notes from Stuart Fletcher’s bass draw you in immediately. Then the instruments pause for a measure and in comes Jay Cox screaming “If you want to get OUT,” jolting you way out of your seat. The good news is, the instruments kick back in, and Jay’s singing blends in to allow you to settle back into your seat surrounded by a cozy post-grunge blanket of sound.
Upon first listen, I can’t say I was blown away. But after sitting with Memory Matches on repeat for a while, it has definitely grown on me. The third release from The Sea Navy comes in at only 24 minutes, filled with 10 punchy songs all under three minutes each. To their credit, I had a lot of trouble trying to put my finger on who they remind me of, and ultimately came up empty handed. If you listen closely you can hear little whips of other bands: a tiny bit Galaxie 500; a tad Dismemberment Plan; a smidge of the Cold War Kids. Sounding unlike anybody else isn’t usually something worth mentioning. But with most new bands today lazily picking up exactly where a defunct band has left off, being original in your sound stands out as an achievement. The Sea Navy have definitely managed to create something unique with this record.
“Talktalktalk” was an immediate standout. What can I say, I’m a sucker for stringed instruments. Throw a violin or two into the mix and I’ll be on your side for sure. And with archival footage of an über-happy couple of teens at the 1962 World’s Fair, the video is quite fun to watch as well. There’s a similar video for “What Curse?,” an ode to America’s pastime, using old baseball footage as the backdrop. It’s quite good. (full disclosure: I’m a baseball fan. Go M’s!) While that’s the only overt song about sports on the album, songs titled “Not My First Rodeo” and “March Madness” show that Jay may not be a typical sports-hating hipster.
The penultimate song, “Old Haunts,” is where the album really climaxes. At 2 minutes and 37 seconds, it’s the second-longest song on Memory Matches. It’s a fairly simple song about a ghost (or ex-lover?) preparing to become a bother (chorus: “I want to know right now / how you plan to haunt me / will you spend all your days just / living with the living?”), but there’s a great little shift in key and beat in the middle of the song that gives it some dimension that’s not seen in the rest of the album.
At only 24 minutes long, the record is over before you’ve had a chance to really get into it. I wish it were a tad more fleshed out. Overall, this Seattle-via-Boston band has some great songs and some ok songs on this album. But it hints at something greater, and I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for their next live gig to hear what’s next.
(Originally posted at Click & Dagger.)