Review Summary: A looooong atmospheric-rock journey.
The last time I checked, none of the bands I listen to are from Maine. That was true, until The Baltic Sea came about. The Portland, Maine quartet has quietly splashed onto the music scene. Through help of their record label, ERICROCK, The Baltic Sea’s refreshing blend of experimental/post-rock stumbled upon my mailbox. But whether it really left a lasting impression is left to be found out.
Through Scenic Heights and Days Regrets
covers a fitting range of genres; floating with ideas from heavy progressive riffs to post-rock noise segments. Beginning with, “Monswoon,” The Baltic Sea shows a spacey side to their palate of stylistic genres (kind of like Sunny Day Real Estate meeting Mogwai for a cute dinner date). But as far as a Sunny Day Real Estate connection is concerned, vocalist Todd Hutchisen has his sights on a rather high-pitched tone. This pitch limits his range to a rather small boundary and leaves something not as soothing as Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate. Even so, Hutchisen’s rather poetic lyrics make his vocals well worth the listen. Anyway, “Monswoon” is the kind of song that grows with every listen as intricate progressive-metal riffs take over until pianos and typewriters drowsily ends the song. And yet, the album is supported by more than just one song.
As I repeatedly ventured through Through Scenic Heights and Days Regrets
I found more and more details that made me come to enjoy the album. Moments in “Parallax” that is so calm and collective, yet monumental and heavy. It’s the heaviness that ultimately defines The Baltic Sea with an ever-present clash of soft and heavy portions. “No Heart March” turns “Two Promises” by Sunny Day Real Estate into a practical post-rock song except with a much different song structure and a more sinister feeling behind every chord and bass strum. Rightly so, The Baltic Sea can still show a softer side and maintain it. “Impasse” and “Carpenter” show their ‘experimental’ side with various noises, pianos, and guitars adding to a rather controlled state of chaos.
Unfortunately, the more I listened, the more problems came with it. Songs become tedious with slow strumming and picking behind a voice fit for a lullaby. I found myself having to put something else on after songs like, “The Everyday Separation,” “Cry Aloud (Then Explain),” or “Dot.Violence” simply because they continued on so unnecessarily slow and uninspired at times. It’s not a matter of length in general, because believe me, Godspeed You! Black Emperor songs fly by in comparison and that is what irks me. This is because The Baltic Sea has the talent and overall idea out there; it’s a matter of combining their music into a concise journey that pushes me to continue listening to the album.
In the end, the atmospheric-rock, Through Scenic Heights and Days Regrets
, simple drags too much in order really blow away listeners. Bombarded one after another with slow songs, the overall effect hinders what The Baltic Sea could have possibly left with Through Scenic Heights and Days Regrets
. Still, The Baltic Sea have time on their side to grow into the vision they see in themselves someday; and hey, maybe one day people won’t have to stumble upon their album to hear what Maine has to bring. It’s all just a matter of time.