June 18, 2020

Seam - The Problem With Me (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Noise Pop
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© 1993 Touch & Go
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
After the transitional Kernel EP and further lineup shifting, Seam settled into a quartet format, ended up in Chicago to record with Brad Wood, and created one of the best albums of the early '90s. Heady praise perhaps, but The Problem With Me found Sooyoung Park and company -- Lexi Mitchell was once again his fine foil on bass, but for the last time -- taking the dreamier wistfulness of the group's early days and turning in even sharper performances while ratcheting up the emotional impact. It's not that the fuzz of Headsparks has cleared entirely, but Park sings a touch more directly and his guitars along with those of second guitarist Craig White come across with more slashing, brusque power, carefully shaped to hold and maintain warmth ("Sweet Pea" demonstrates the change to a tee). The result's a simply marvelous series of songs showing a touch more complexity without sacrificing the yearning, emotional heft the band can carry so well, as "The Wild Cat" readily demonstrates, Park's confessions of feeling transformed by the music into quiet drama. "Bunch" pulls what was already becoming a cliché-ridden soft/loud/soft approach into a just new enough direction, more subtle than expected and benefiting from Bob Rising's non-4/4 drumming. Similar contrasts in volume elsewhere also work much more than so many Pixies-via-Nirvana clones of the time -- the crumbling-static guitar on "Stage 2000," the lovely sorrow of "Dust and Turpentine" and "Something's Burning." It all builds to a magnificent climax in "Autopilot," consisting of little more than a muted siren-like guitar loop matched by some extra feedback and chime, Mitchell's bass acting as the lead melody and Park's soft, perfectly caught singing. It's a farewell to the Mitchell/Park partnership, one that, at least musically, went out on top.

tags: seam, the problem with me, 1993, flac,

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