In a sly turn of self-deprecation, Greenville's The Southern Sea launches its first full-length with a track called "These Things Always End Badly," which lyrically bemoans the faulty set-ups of a local stage while the band admits that, as the crowd wants punk rock, "We play quietly/Our set's too short and we lack energy/No lead guitar, no jumping or Flying V's." There's a subtle humor to the song, though, given the optimistically lush sonic soundscape its deft instrumentation and arrangement paints. And this duality—subtly optimistic takes on somber themes—is actually the common thread that strings this delightful indie-pop disc together.
Honestly, No. isn't without flaws, though: The Southern Sea relies a little too heavily on a combination of Modest Mouse's Good News for People Who Love Bad News and Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlanticism—two great records, yes, but two records whose directions have been followed to death just a few years after their release. Still, unlike so many others before it, The Southern Sea is able to capably blend these influences into a somewhat unique, off-kilter patchwork.
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There are two sides to this fence: Fans of the genre will predictably champion this effort; detractors of it will no doubt naysay its too-obvious direction. But this much should be inarguable: On its first full-length release, Greenville's best-kept secret firmly establishes itself, quite capably, among the premiere indie-pop outfits in the region.