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Made up of a pedigree of Brisbane punk, indie and hardcore bands including Art Vandelay, Little Shadow and Capeweather, Seahorse Divorce are a relatively newly-formed quintet of Queenslanders that – on their debut self-titled album – mix a healthy range of pop, indie and jazz elements, boiling down to a fairly dynamic outburst of quirky math-rock.
Opener ‘Recurring’ introduces us to what Seahorse Divorce are about. There’s the erratic, noodly guitar lines reminiscent of Algernon Cadwallader and This Town Needs Guns, but with that kind of familiar, distinctive Australian earnestness that seeps through naturally and reassuringly. Straight away – and it becomes more evident as we edge further into the album with ‘Something New’, ‘Rogers Street’ and ‘Toto’ – there’s an unassuming tropical warmth about Seahorse Divorce that intrinsically recalls the sun-drenched environment of the band’s home.
The off-kilter nature of the band’s overall sonic presentation plays right into their favour. When the jazzy influence works in tandem with punk rock energy to build upbeat momentum – as it does with gusto on album highlight ‘Another Cigarette’, we find Seahorse Divorce at their most confident, not to mention their most vibrant and, plainly, fun. Which, really, is one of the more prominent moods one garners when listening to the album; a sense of sheer enjoyment (without feeling like a novelty) that belies some of the more intricate, complex arrangements in the band’s instrumentation.
As often befalls bands playing this brand of twinkly, Kinsella-esque emo-pop, the album can occasionally feel somewhat repetitious in delivery, but thankfully there’s enough eccentric nuances and subtle idiosyncrasies to make the record still very much an intriguing, engaging listen – managing to avoid coming across as mere variations on a theme.
With their debut album, Seahorse Divorce show a remarkable amount of promise for a debut, likely the product of such well-seasoned musicians coming together to create something unique.
2. Something New
3. Rogers Street
6. End Zone
7. Summarise Proust
8. Another Cigarette