The Sea and Cake's "Jacking the Ball," the first song on their first record, may still be their best, followed closely by every song since. Therefore, the Chicago quartet has been doomed to a career unadorned by the fireworks and controversy brought on by inconsistent quality. Originally cribbing its members from Tortoise — one of the notoriously uneven post-rock movement's most respectable and soporific bands — and Shrimp Boat — who are just out there — way back in 1993, they've wandered toward electronica and back, all the while remaining a fun, interesting, elegant ensemble. They've never had a comeback, or even a slump; they've just been reliably, almost boringly good. Ho-hum. Besides high standards, The Sea and Cake has developed a unique and attractive signature sound, aligning interlocking reggae and calypso riffs with Sam Prekop's breathy, half-voiced singing and John McEntire's excruciatingly tasteful drumming. That may make them predictable in some ways, but their actual songs are rarely so. In short, The Sea and Cake's consistency makes them fit together seamlessly, into a unified artistic legacy defined by intelligent yet uncomplicated pleasure.
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