It’s hard to imagine the Silver Seas crafting a better record than their second one, the 2006 gem High Society (originally issued under their original name, the Bees, they dropped the moniker after a dispute with A Band of Bees, who are known simply as the Bees in the UK). Possibly one of the best records you’ve never heard, it’s undeniably smart, well crafted, Electric Light Orchestra-informed pop, and one of my favorite discoveries of the past year. Based on that level of praise, you can imagine the anticipation — and expectations — the Silver Seas’ third album, Chateau Revenge, was met with. Would it be able to live up to the promise of High Society?
One listen to its opener, “Another Bad Night’s Sleep,” dashed any doubts. Barbed with self-deprecating wit, singer-guitarist Daniel Tashian bemoans a relationship well past its expiration date. Delivered with a wink and a smile, he sings, “Baby, I need a long walk off a short pier / Couldn’t drink enough to make the world disappear / A good friend, a bitter enemy / Or I could stay with you and get another bad night’s sleep.” The irony of juxtaposing downright depressing lyrics against a backdrop of joyful tunes is nothing new, but the Silver Seas do it so masterfully you’d think they were the first.
Tashian’s ability to write a hook is amplified by the talents of the rest of the band — keyboardist Jason Lehning, bassist Lex Price, and drummer David Gehrke — who round out the arrangements, giving them a decidedly ’70s bend without making them sound like a pastiche. On “What’s the Drawback?” the Silver Seas go so far as to name-check Jeff Lynne’s band and signature sound, invoking the “magic chords of the E.L.O.” It’s not all AM Gold, though, on Chateau Revenge: there are also tender moments (“From My Windowsill,” first recorded by fellow Nashvillian David Mead on 2008’s Almost and Always) and jubilant celebrations (the breezy “Jane” and “Candy”) on this stellar collection.
The bottom line is this: Chateau Revenge is one of the best albums released so far this year, the sort of record where, before you know it, you’ve listened to it three times and you’re singing along. It’s familiar and new all at once, and deserves a spot in your library.