The Sea and Cake – Moonlight Butterfly album review

The Sea and Cake has been trucking along since the mid-’90s. The indie-rock band that hails from Chicago has produced 9 albums over the last 17 years. Their latest, Moonlight Butterfly, took flight on May 10th. Sam Prekop is The Sea and Cake’s front-man. Drummer John McEntire also drums for the band Tortoise, another band born out of the Windy City in the late ‘80s, credited as pioneers of ‘post-rock’ with ultimate recognition paid in their second LP, Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Another scenester from the underground music scene in Chicago, Archer Prewitt, and bass-player/synth-master Eric Claridge, complete the foursome that is The Sea and Cake. Claridge is responsible for Moonlight Butterfly’s album cover, an elephant drawing that calls to mind early 1900’s African royalty.

Moonlight Butterfly is a mini-album. A 6-song exploration through what one might call: a tranquil trace of a band that’s trying something new-ish. If you listen to some of The Sea and Cake’s earlier work – it’s clear that they’ve, in some ways, grown up. This isn’t to say that Butterfly is an ultimate successor to S and C’s 8 other albums though. Simply put: None of their new songs will sway you in the way earlier hits like  “Parasol” or “Alone for the Moment” did off their 1995 LP Nassau. “Covers” deliver the ins and outs of a stream of consciousness-like ambiance. Next up is the the fresh and wistful “Lyric” followed by an up-beat, synth-fest of sound in “Moonlight Butterfly”, which could very well be the album favorite. Well, no wonder! Then there’s the peppy “Up on The North Shore”, no doubt, a reference to the northeast suburbs of Chicago that rest along the banks of Lake Michigan. The 10-minute track  “Inn Keeping” reflects The Sea Cake at their core. And the sixth song, “Monday”, closes off the album with the quietness of a late summer afternoon.

It’s the kind of half-hour compilation that you could listen to while drinking your morning coffee. It isn’t meant to be much more than, what appears to be, some kind preamble to something else. The songs overflow daintily from one to the next, visually cinematic in their presentation. This album peels back the onion layers of The Sea and Cake, exposing a less-tattered, ethereal voyage.


The Sea and Cake Tour Dates:
May 18 –  Madison, WI – The Frequency
May 19 –  Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
May 21 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle

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