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Tomorrow Today

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Album Review

With members from Broadcast and the criminally neglected Plone, Seeland could be considered a supergroup from Birmingham, England's early 2000s "retro-futurist" electronic pop scene. The songs on their debut album, Tomorrow Today, certainly contain shades of their previous projects' sounds: "Colour Dream"'s whooshing and whirring is as sweetly strange and soothing as anything on Plone's For Beginner Piano, and "Pretty Bird" has more than a little of that band's nursery rhyme innocence; "Call the Incredible," with its trippy serenity, could easily pass for a Broadcast song. Like their work with their previous bands, Billy Bainbridge and Tim Felton are experts at crafting detailed sounds that are a joy to marvel at as they flutter, overlap, and collide, such as "Goodbye"'s rippling synths and rattling percussion and "5 A.M."'s delicate layers of guitar and electronic doodles. But while Broadcast sound like they're transmitting from somewhere far across the galaxy, and Plone sounded like they were in a playroom crafting pocket symphonies on toy electronics, Seeland finds a happy medium between those extremes on Tomorrow Today. Their songs are rooted on terra firma, but with bits of spacy weirdness decorating their margins. And while Felton is a somewhat limited singer, his voice's warmth — which recalls Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys — connects the tangents the music takes around him. The album's only misstep (and it's a tiny one) is "Static Object," where his vocal's innate friendliness doesn't quite mesh with the rest of the song's dark, sleek vibe. Seeland also loves honest-to-goodness pop from every era, and that goes a long way toward distinguishing the band from its history. "Turnaround"'s lush, lavish choruses and chilly synth-strings pay charming homage to '80s synth pop, while the ping-ponging electronics, harpsichords, and twanging guitars on "Library" suggest a hybrid of '60s chamber pop and experimental electronic music, like a Left Banke song recorded at BBC's Radiophonic Workshop. Seeland's invention doesn't stop at recombining sounds from the past, however: "Hang on Lucifer" takes electro-rock in a very different direction than most of the band's contemporaries, with phaser-like synths and sprightly guitars dueling over a bubblegum melody. It took Seeland five years to issue Tomorrow Today, but it was time well spent — these unique and immediate songs build on the band's past but never feel restricted by it.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Birmingham, England's electronic pop group Seeland can trace the roots of their lineup and sound back to that city's "retro futurist" scene of the late '90s and early 2000s: Tim Felton was a member of Broadcast, while Mike "Billy" Bainbridge played in Plone. While Seeland are as inspired by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Joe Meek as the pair's previous bands were, this project also nods to '80s synth pop and '60s psychedelia. Felton and Bainbridge joined forces as Seeland in 2004, sharing vocal,...
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Tomorrow Today, Seeland
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