Writing about music is obviously a passion for people like me, but it is also a way of making a living. This obviously means that, like any job, you find yourself writing about music just out of obligation, a means to an end. Sometimes you are pleasantly surprised by what you find under the pen, something which fits neatly into your record collection. Other times you chance upon a new discovery, something which you might never have found if you were not following this chosen profession. And then, very, very occasionally, you fall hopelessly in love with the music emanating from the musical box. And that was exactly how I felt even before I had got to the end of We Share the Same Stars, my first taste of The Sea At Midnight’s wonderful sound.
The Sea At Midnight have just signed to Montreal post-punk/shoegaze label Velouria Recordz and this, their first release for the label, can also be purchased in physical form as a cassette via their Bandcamp page, a format which speaks volumes as to the slightly nostalgic glint in their eye.
Most music you are drawn to has an element of familiarity about it, and it is safe to say that this eponymous album does wear its influences on its sleeve…a rumbling Floodland baseline here, a bleak Joy Division lyric there, post-punk outsiderisms dancing with early gothic groove. But that is fine with me, that’s the music I grew up to, consumed, watched live, rope-danced in basement nightclubs to and generally day-dreamed about. It was the soundtrack to my formative and impressionable years.
But this album is more than just a chance to complete the circle and reappropriate past glories. This is the sound of the torch being carried forward into a new age, the sound of the past being planted, watered and thriving in the present.
Anyone of a certain age or musical taste can’t help picture Patricia Morrison looking out across a desolate wasteland as the beats of Medicine kicks in, but the song quickly surrounds itself with spiralling guitars and synthy haze to assert its own, unique identity.
How Many Times is a mercurial mix of New Romantic pop, Cure-esque quirk and gothic aloofness, none of which were ever that far away from each other, certainly not back in the early years; We Share The Same Stars is a gorgeous flourish of guitar intricacies, electro-tribal energy and fractured, passionate vocals and Anything About You is a brooding yet gentle anthem to love from afar.
The Sea At Midnight is a glorious and gorgeous, dark and delicious album. It will remind people like me of times past but it also of the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Gothic music never broke, it did get hi-jacked by theatrical rockers and a strange strain of cyber-metal for a time, but the core sound never let us down. The Sea At Midnight is a reminder of this. It is both a celebration of the past, the planting of a sonic flag in the present and a move to ensure that such music thrives into the future. But more than that, it is a collection of fantastic, emotive, resonant and otherworldly songs. And that is what it is all about.