“For fans of Brand New, Jawbreaker, and Crime In Stereo,” reads the sticker on the plastic wrap of Seahaven’s debut EP, Ghost – all comparisons making for high expectations. But when it comes to the Southern Californian post-punk four piece, they more than justify their packing’s lofty promises.
For those not yet acquainted, Seahaven formed when former Final Fight drummer James Phillips opted for a new direction. Creator-Destructor Records signed the resulting collaboration within months, and has since wasted no time in releasing a very comprehensive starting point. Post-punk works best when fueled by ambition – when genres collide in harmony and work towards a common goal. And for their first effort, Seahaven achieves these ends remarkably well.
Track by track the band introduces new elements, leading listeners down a dark but intelligent path. Album opener “Plague” greets listeners with the vocal talent that is Kyle Chadwick, a frontman sounding as if internally tormented and in a perpetual battle for his sanity. “Satan sleeps inside my brain/when he wakes he takes me far away/to a place that I completely hate/where I’m a prisoner in my own body” he speaks in a tortured tone, not unlike that characteristic of indie stalwarts Manchester Orchestra. Moments later, tempers flare and his struggling tone transforms into a borderline growl accented and harmonized by co-vocalist Eric Findlay and his thumping bass line. Chords linger and echo in memory as their strength ebbs and flows in time with the accompanying mood. Emotions run high during Ghost, and when the group taps into personal topics like struggle and turmoil, they make a true connection with listeners.
Furthermore, a variety of different styles surface throughout, always impacting the underlying tone. “Ghost” in particular serves as an emotional low point, with Chadwick taking a note from La Dispute and breaking down into near collapse. But everything isn’t always doom and gloom. Tracks like “Love” actually feature vocals from Set Your Goals’ Jordan Brown, with his sunny demeanor comparable to a hopeful ray of light beaming down from freshly parted clouds. At first some may feel distraught from this sudden surge of pop punk, but much like those shielding their eyes from a fresh pillar of sunlight, it only takes moments to lower one’s defenses and embrace this sunny change.
With Ghost, Seahaven demonstrates a sophisticated knowledge of the intricacies of post punk. Ghost might officially bare the “EP” flag, but with the debut boasting seven tracks in a lengthy twenty-eight minutes, it could easily double as very satisfying full length. Furthermore, Chadwick is a vocal powerhouse whose talents know no bounds. With an emotional range that brings each track to life, listeners are in for a real treat. Now with their first effort under their belts, Seahaven will inevitably garner many notable comparisons (Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, Jawbreaker, Crime In Stereo to name a few) – but based on the strength of Ghost, it won’t be long before Seahaven becomes a reference point too.