Chicago's The Sea and Cake continues to refine its unique bossa nova-tinged blue-eyed-soul dream-pop with Car Alarm. Though there are few surprises, it's a consistently captivating throughout. The opener "Aerial" and the title song charge from the speakers like outtakes from the Flamin Groovies Shake Some Action. A solid beat, lean, jangling guitars, and tantalizing pop dynamics build gradually, just enough to make you want to hear it again right away. The reflective mid-tempo Pages features a willowy, sultry melody (imagine pre-Stevie Nicks Fleetwood Mac playing bossa nova) with alluring, resolute Latin jazz-tinged guitar figures, and the gauzy, purr-like vocals are the cherry on the sundae. Its easy to imagine the suavely bouncy On a Letter as an Adult Album Alternative radio hit, and the sleek Weekend, with its undulating drums and twittering electronics, evokes The Sea and Cakes U.K. cousins Stereolab interpreting a Donna Summer disco hit. With its singular combination of flair and restraint, Car Alarm is the aural equivalent of a fine, leisurely meal with a charming, erudite companion.
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