Over the course of six albums since 1993, Chicago-based quartet the Sea and Cake have developed and refined their stylish post-rock sound -- a tight, jazz-inspired reworking of rock song structures and time signatures. While their 2000 album, "Oui," was noticeably leaner and less improvisational than previous recordings, on "One Bedroom" the band takes another step toward shorter, downright perky pop tunes.
As ever, John McEntire's driven, repetitive percussive lines and Sam Prekop's warm, breathy vocals are perfectly complemented by the intricate guitar work of Archer Prewitt and the bass progressions of Eric Claridge. It's the gurgling electronic underpinnings and distinctly cheerful '70s synth chimes that make the difference here, adding needed texture and distracting from overly rigid rhythmic structures.
The catchy "Shoulder Length" and "Mr. F" exemplify the band's more playful approach and their willingness to try out classic pop arrangements. As a result, "One Bedroom" is their most fully realized and charmingly elegant effort to date. Nonetheless, it's the exquisite remake of David Bowie's 1977 hit "Sound & Vision" that steals the show.
"One Bedroom" is out now on Thrill Jockey.