★ ★ ★ ★
Sea of Worry is Have a Nice Life’s third studio album, and their most different yet. 2008’s Deathconsciousness became a cult classic for its suffocatingly atmospheric darkness, but their latest effort has a more hopeful air. While the lyrics are grim as ever, the melodies that accompany them lean even further into post-punk than before.
The album’s first half is devoted to the newer sound they’ve cultivated. ‘Dracula Bells’ could almost pass for an Interpol B-side until it devolves into a dissonant, glorious mess in its last minutes. ‘Trespassers W’ doesn’t necessarily feel like a stylistic fit for the album, yet it’s a fantastic song in its own right. The second half has more in common with their past work and vocalist Dan Barrett’s side project, Giles Corey. ‘Lords of Tresserhorn’ is undoubtedly the album’s standout track, with Barrett’s heavily reverbed vocals accompanying a crunching guitar line that steadily gains distortion as his delivery becomes more deranged. Unfortunately, ‘Everything We Forget’ and ‘Destinos’ are lacking, with the latter being dominated by an unnecessarily lengthy sample.
The band’s apparent new direction does have its merits, but Sea of Worry lacks the character of past releases – the overproduced sheen on some tracks weakens their impact substantially.
Matthew Derwin – Music Editor