Vondelpark-Seabed

Much is made of albums being “stolen” every day by Pirate Bay’s massed ranks, but regardless of your stance there, spare a thought for Vondelpark; victims of theft in a far more real sense. Two years ago, following a pair of promising EPs, a laptop containing the only existing files for what was to be their debut album was nicked during a gig. ‘Seabed’ is not that album rerecorded, but a new collection of songs, and, perhaps accordingly, a whiff of second-album syndrome – technical competence but stylistic uncertainty and mustiness – runs through the London trio’s debut. At its best, on the woozy hypnagogic pop of ‘Bananas’, that uncertainty is a virtue, as dismembered rave vocals singing “Maybe I’ve seen you before” soar above blissed-out Balearic instrumentation to create an oddly dislocating, beatific sense of nostalgia. The opening ‘Quest’, too, smoothes the remaining edges off James Blake’s blubstep template to leave a seductively warm slip of a song. Elsewhere though, ‘Seabed’ feels forced: the obsequiously named ‘Outro for Ariel’ is chillwave by numbers, and successive songs in the album’s middle drift by so horizontally they barely register. Under the circumstances, that staleness is a shame – were ‘Seabed’ to have arrived alongside its contemporaries like James Blake and Teengirl Fantasy, and not two years late, it might’ve sounded far fresher.

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