Review Summary: A nice slice of blissful pop/rock
Dream pop/shoegaze seems like an insanely easy musical format to work with. Take a simple chord progression and run it through some reverb pedals and distortion, then add a dreamy vocal melody on top and bam! A lazy pop song becomes “atmospheric post-something or other.” This simple formula has been completely bypassed by A Sunny Day in Glasgow on their latest LP, “Sea when Absent.” Wisely shunning the lazy “minimalistic” approach so often adopted by shoegaze artists, “Sea when Absent” is a detailed, thoughtfully constructed piece of dream pop that features a strong atmosphere and beautiful melodies.
The sounds found here are rich and dazzling, encouraging multiple listens to fully unpack and discover every little detail. The production is almost perfect, creating a deep and full atmosphere that will suck you in listen after listen. Where as most dream pop demands seem obsessed with their effects and pedals (hence the name Shoegaze), A Sunny Day in Glasgow seems much more interested in the world around them, giving this album a very alive and vibrant feel. Uniformity is not a problem here, as the album moves from heavy tracks like Bye Bye Ocean to dense pop songs like In Love with Useless to dreamy ambience on on Crushin’ with ease and confidence. The songwriting is excellent as well: even though A Sunny Day in Glasgow general stick to a Verse/Chorus format they still manage to include some awesome mood swings and variety to the overall song structure (In Love with Useless benefits greatly from this). The melodies are also exceptionally catchy and beautiful and stick with you in the best way possible. “Sea when Absent” is sonically excellent with lots of musical details and awesome melodies that create a strong and captivating atmosphere.
While the production and music on this thing are awesome, the album does have suffer from poor flow. The album ends with the song Golden Waves and, while the song is excellent, it doesn’t have a real sense of finality or closure to it. The album also doesn’t build towards anything, which makes it feel more like a collection of tracks that create a certain atmosphere, not a cohesive whole. Despite its excellent overall sound and strong songs, “Sea when Absent” does suffer from a lack of cohesion and little to and somewhat weak ending.
Ultimately “Sea when Absent” succeeds because it avoids so many of the pitfalls that gobble up other similar bands. Its music (though maybe not its overall flow) is intentional and detailed to a fault, creating an immersive and deep atmosphere that demands multiple revisits. “Sea when Absent” proves to be an astoundingly strong and beautiful album that gets better and better with every listen.