Dave McGovern
staff writer
May 04, 2006
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Cannibal Sea Cannibal Sea
May 16, 2006

Essex Green Essex Green
April 25, 2000
Redeye Distribution
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Essex Green
Cannibal Sea

The name “Cannibal Sea” conjures all kinds of ferocious imagery. A sea that eats people? Or would it be more accurate to say a sea that eats other bodies of water? Despite the ominous adjective “Cannibal”, the name of band and album both are soothing when spoken aloud. Essex Green. Cannibal Sea. Go ahead and say both names out loud. C’mon, don’t be shy. There, don’t you feel more relaxed? More at peace? The half rhyming couplet of the band and album name creates a calm and whimsical feel before ever actually listening to the album. Cannibal Sea is an album that you can judge from its cover (or at least the sound of its title).The emotions which the name evokes are reflected in the sound of the record; soothing jangle pop songs with beautifully clean and sweet vocals.

The first cut is “This Isn’t Farm Life” which has caramel smooth female vocals over clean poppy bass, crisp set back drumming and ringing keys. This song is 60’s throwback pop music at it’s most quintessential.

“Don’t Know Why You Stay” is the following track and the highlight of Cannibal Sea. Wistful newsie male vocals are layered gently upon muted power chords and tambourine. The music slowly builds into the boy/girl chorus singing “don’t know why you stay”. This melody will stay stuck in your head for a minimum of seventeen hours guaranteed by me. The song is comparable to a much deserved treat after a long day. Sort of like a five o’clock long island ice tea on a Wednesday. Second time through the chorus it explodes into a harmonious vocal onslaught that transitions to a synth solo. There is not really much more to this song lyrically than the song’s title, but with the great performance on this track nothing else is really needed.

After “Don’t Know Why You Stay” the album starts falling fast. The only other treats are the lyrics of “Rabbit” (“in Monterey, VA / My initials lay / Ill drive on 33 her rabbit next to me / while sandy sang”) and the Simon and Garfunkle-esque recorder solo on “Slope Song”. The remainder of the record is split between subdued faux energy retro pop songs with female vocals and sparse shinny Donovan inspired, male vocal driven, country folk songs. The songs are well performed, but have no real emotion. A computer could have randomly generated and produced these songs. The excitement I felt while listening to this album lasted about as long as the flavor of a stick of Juicy Fruit. If you want a watered down Elephant 6 knock off album, then check out Cannibal Sea

Release date: March 21, 2006
Label: Merge
Rating: 5.5 / 10

On the web: http://www.essexgreen.com/
[RMR]