There are things in life that we just don’t want to see change because they’re so damn good the way they are. They’re comfort food for the soul. Seashaped are such comfort food for me. Following up their breakout record “A Pill for Everything” they gave us another fabulous record with “Children of the Universe”, that continued to bleed their classic sound with some newer elements thrown in. Now on the latest EP release, “A Story Of Trouble & Love”, their musical rules are loosened even more from the previous record’s sound as they explore the thrill of a concept record, but it’s hardly anything new in the world of Pete Gustard and Alison Riley.
In the end it’s still all about guitars, drums, harmonies, melodies, events and human relationships, for this Manchester duo. This time around though they dig deeper, and their creative juices have produced a 10 track EP with 5 full songs and 5 interludes which link the story of its two main characters – Tom & Alice.
Seashaped’s confidence as songwriters really shows through here, in a project that calls for cohesive writing in the storytelling, but also music which keeps the listener interested all the way through. For the most part, the songs center on the ways of love, relationships, commitment and the rules and tragedies that governs going about them. Underneath, we have the theme of war as a backdrop to the narratives.
The alternative rock and alt-folk musical structures are quite familiar, but there are plenty of diversified elements to satisfy lovers of both extremes. Seashaped are clearly quite comfortable with themselves and their musical formula and they should be because it works quite well.
The first track, “Tom Loves Rock” kicks in with a crunchy guitar groove and leads the album to a charging start with its driven blues based riffs and a reverberated–infused vocal. The loud riffing suddenly switches away, as the female character comes in on the alt-folk type track, “Alice’s Reflection”, to give the album a whole new musical flavor.
After only two tracks, this record just reminded me why Seashaped are so much beyond other ‘rival’ bands – not that the rest of the bands are without merit – but the scope and sound of this duo is so broad-ranged, no ‘one’ band can actually ‘rival’ them, you need a collective of three or four bands to actually match the sounds they’re putting out here on “A Story Of Trouble & Love”. As they switch between softer acoustic dominated material, and hard, overdriven alternative-rock rhythms. The alternating of the female to male vocals, not only adds authenticity to the storyline, but gives Seashaped’s music an added dynamic and interest.
The things Seashaped do on this recording never fail to astound me. The interludes are exceptionally brilliant, and held my attention just as much as the fully fleshed-out songs themselves did, especially “No One Went Home” and “Looking Back On You And I”.
One thing is clear, Pete Gustard and Alison Riley know how to mix up styles and how to alternate harder and softer tracks without it sounding forced – All which brings me to my favorite track on the EP, the closing song “Tom Came Home (Repatriation)”.
Now this may have to do with the fact that I am an avid Pink Floyd fan, but this mid-tempo and moody acoustic-driven song, beautifully layered with organic instrumentation and filled with tons of warm vocal harmonies had me reeling in my chair.
This for me is probably the best piece of music Seashaped has ever put to record. On every subsequent note of the arrangement I was waiting with baited for Sir David Gilmour to breakout with one of his spirited electric guitar solos. If this had happened I think my heart would have exploded, as at that point Pete Gustard and Alison Riley had already filled it to the brim with unbridled emotion! Run, don’t walk, and get “A Story Of Trouble & Love now!