Seaway – ‘Fresh Produce’

By Gem Rogers

For a band who’ve long been on the fringes of the pop punk scene – popular, but not quite one of the big names – it finally feels like Canadians Seaway are on the verge of breaking through in a much bigger way, fuelled by their effervescent 2017 album ‘Vacation’. Taking a break from the norm, fourth full length ‘Fresh Produce’ is an album in several parts; a mixture of new originals, reworked older tracks, a handful of covers, and the reappearance of their four track ‘All In My Head’ EP. It makes for a bit of a wild ride through the world of Seaway.

The album opens with two new singles ‘Pleasures’ and ‘Blur’, and it’s clear that Seaway intend to continue with the shimmering, sunny brand of pop-punk they perfected with ‘Vacation’. It’s not too surprising given the popularity of this style, and they do it incredibly well; the dual vocals of Ryan Locke and Patrick Carleton blend so well that you’d be forgiven for not realising they’re two different people, whilst still having variety. ‘Pleasures’, in particular, is nothing if not well named, with jangly guitars and a fresh sound making for a smile-inducing slice of escapist pop – it’s hard to not feel a little sad that these are the only two originals on the album.

Alternative versions might be a bit of a contentious topic among fans, with some preferring a more steady flow of new music, but Seaway have done a solid job here of re-approaching four tracks from their back catalogue. ‘Something Wonderful’ is a song that perfectly encapsulates all the awkwardness, affection and optimism of romance, and the reworking takes on a joyous, acoustic campfire lullaby feel. ’40 Over’ goes down a jaunty, electronic path and ‘Lula’ – truly the most irresistible love song ever written about a dog – somehow manages to become even poppier, albeit a little slower than the original. An acoustic mashup of ‘Slam’ and ‘Shy Guy’ rounds off this section of the album in a nod to older fans – Seaway may be moving on but they aren’t abandoning their past.

Covers have a long history in alternative music and in pop punk – see the ‘From The Screen To Your Stereo’ trilogy and Four Year Strong’s ‘Explains It All’ for reference, not to mention more than a few ‘Punk Goes…’ albums. It’s usually a chance for bands to have a bit of fun mangling (in a good way… usually) well-loved pop tunes, but the efforts here are a little so-so. They’re liberally doused in that recognisable Seaway tone, but with no major departures made from the originals, all three are lacking in excitement – and when it comes to classics like ‘Hand In My Pocket’, it feels like the band haven’t been brave enough to really make it their own.

There’s not much more that can be said for the remaining four tracks, resurrected from ‘All In My Head’ which seem to have been added purely to up the album length. They do at least serve as a good reminder of just how far Seaway have come in terms of songwriting in the five years since the EP’s release – ‘Your Best Friend’ is particularly jarring and probably best confined to the band’s history.

Though it’s largely enjoyable, ‘Fresh Produce’ feels more like a stop-gap album, despite coming two years after their last and with no clear indication yet of what’s coming next. ‘Vacation’ was by no means an example of flash-in-the-pan brilliance – earlier albums ‘Hoser’ and ‘Colour Blind’, as well as the new singles, are proof enough of that – so here’s hoping that we can get another full length dose of originals soon. In the meantime, ‘Fresh Produce’ will undoubtedly be enough to tide fans over through the coming months – there are few bands who turn summer into sound as well as Seaway.

GEM ROGERS

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