Car Alarm - The Sea and Cake
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Intricate and ever-changing in style, The Sea and Cake give further proof why they've had such staying power.
  2. Prekop croons out a cool mist of vocal hooks, wrapping these peculiar adventures, as he always does, in smooth confidence.
  3. With both "Everybody" and now Car Alarm, the Sea and Cake would appear to be in the midst of an inspiration streak unheard of since their first three albums, and we’re richer for it. Impressive for a quartet of mid-‘40s post-rockers on their eighth record.
  4. The sound throughout--as ever recorded and mixed by drummer John McEntire--is gorgeous, and a nice reminder of how thoughtful simplicity can still carry a lot of weight.
  5. Their brisk, efficient indie rock hasn't changed radically, but the insertion of an instrumental here and an electronics-heavy track there makes for needed counterpoint.
  6. The Sea & Cake has dabbled in electronic grooves and Brazilian lilt throughout its seven sleek albums, but the band has never quite let it rip like it does on Car Alarm.
  7. Car Alarm is essentially Everybody II; an album that subtly stretches the group’s formulaic parameters with rawer production and looser instrumentation but without cementing any concrete boundary-changes.
  8. The Chicago quartet has been making this kind of music since the '90s, and its eighth album is much in the spirit of past releases.
  9. The group largely plays around in well-established territory melodically and musically, but it's the small twists and slightly more upbeat tempo that make the release feel more exciting than their past efforts.
  10. While all of this still may not equal any great departure from before, anyone who had appreciated the newly charted direction on Everybody is sure to find the new songs every bit as strong and engaging. [Fall 2008, p.78]
  11. Even if plenty of the songs on this record could be easily mixed up with something from their past two records ('Window Sills' and 'New Schools' are straight off Everybody), their idiosyncracies never diminish any of this album’s terrific songs.
  12. 70
    Reliably excellent but emotionally detached, the Sea and Cake's eighth album is of a piece with their first seven.
  13. True to form, the band deliver yet again on Car Alarm. [Nov 2008, p.155]
  14. It’s at once simple, colorful, and cozy, but, if examined closely enough, can be appreciated on another level entirely--one that’s both casually sophisticated and quietly intelligent.
  15. Sam Prekop and company serve up their characteristic concoction of jazzy rhythms, softhearted melodies and crystal-clear production aesthetics on Car Alarm, a record equally appropriate to romantic afternoons and late-night drink-offs.
  16. Car Alarm feels different, though. What’s difficult to figure out, however, is whether that’s merely a feeling or whether there’s something actually, appreciably novel about the album.
  17. Long-time fans should find plenty to love about this disc. For the uninitiated listener, there are earlier albums that might serve as a better introduction to the Sea and Cake than this one.
  18. Sometimes there’s a comfort to be found in familiarity, and Car Alarm plays like an object lesson on why sticking to your guns isn’t always such a bad idea after all.
  19. 68
    While the album-opener 'Aerial' and 'Weekend' are still easy on the ears, it's the all-too-short 'CMS Sequence' and 'Mirrors' that whet our appetite for the band's experimental side, which is achingly absent here. [Fall 2008, p.94]
  20. 60
    Car Alarm offers a fine entry point into the quartet's breezy soundworld. [Nov 2008, p.110]
  21. 60
    The Sea And The Cake's refusal to budge from their original MO for the last 14 years seems like an admirable show of restraint. [Nov 2008, p.119]
  22. 60
    Even though Prekop and Prewitt continue interlocking their guitars over spiny rhythms from McEntire and Calridge throughout the set, something doesn't quite click often enough this time around. [Nov/Dec 2008, p.87]
  23. In the end, Car Alarm is likeable enough if you’re already a fan. Just don’t expect to die of excitement.
  24. Car Alarm strips away the exotic and the curious. [Nov 2008, p.70]
  25. Maybe all of Car Alarm is about conflict, but Prekop glides and sighs over every vowel, making it difficult to hear what he’s saying or to detect a hint of tension beneath the gloss.

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