Seabear's Melancholy Gives 'We Built You a Fire' Its Charm


We Built You a Fire (Morr Music)

The Icelandic band Seabear’s second album, We Built You a Fire, is a grandiose exploration of melancholy. What started as a solo project from Sindri Már Sigfússon, who sings and plays a number of instruments, has grown into a seven-piece band.

At times, We Built You a Fire feels like the band recorded any instrument they could get their hands on. There are violins, piano, horns, a children’s choir, and what sounds like a theremin on “Fire Dies Down.”

But the backbone of Seabear’s sound is the atmospheric, minimalist guitar work contrasting with energetic drums and Sigfússon’s somber, yearning vocals. Some listeners might find Seabear to be a little too much like Sufjan Stevens or Belle and Sebastian, but the group uses a few tricks that set them apart. “Cold Summer” starts with a slow, pulsing piano and Sigfússon’s signature coo, building to a cacophony of violin, syncopated drums, and plinking guitar. Then there’s the the major lift of “In Winter’s Eyes” and the nasty electric guitar breakdown in “Warm Blood.” The album can get morose at times, but its that melancholy that gives We Built You a Fire it’s endearing charm.

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