August 25, 1998
The Pace Is Glacial
You'd be forgiven for being a little confused by the title of Seam's fourth album....
7 / 10
YOU'D BE FORGIVEN FOR BEING a little confused by the title of Seam's fourth album. For Seam have the sort of upstanding Chicago rock pedigree that could well see them get all chilly and isolationist in the autumn of their years. At the turn of the decade, guitarist Sooyoung Park was in Bitch Magnet, the Slint that didn't get remembered. If there's anyone likely to climb into the Difficult Music deep freeze and slam the door shut, it is he.
But if some of the songs on this record ('Kanawha', 'Pale Marble Movie') start off barely there, and gradually coalesce into clear, glassy shapes, there's no need to reach for ear muffs quite yet; the bright surging college rock of songs like 'Get Higher' and 'Intifada Driving School' proves that Seam haven't taken to storing their guitars in an ice-locker.
In fact, the early part of 'The Pace...' actually recalls a souped-up Superchunk: loose, warm and happy, if better than average at maths. And for all Seam's sad, gentle turns (of which there are many, not all of them pure genius) they still nurse a punk-rock fire in their collective belly. There's ragged hollering on 'Nisei Fight Song' and the sort of euphoric, ringing guitars on 'In the Sun' that Fugazi wouldn't turn up their noses at.
An American classic, of sorts. At whatever speed.
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