Sea Urchin – Destroy!

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Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

Destroy! - Ba Da Bing Records

New Jersey’s Sea Urchin are set to reveal their debut album, Destroy!, on the 29th March via the wonderfully named, and presumably Goodfellas inspired, Ba Da Bing Records. The album title is deceptive, this is not in the vein of the Sex Pistols nihilistic battle cries, rather this is embedded in the despair of a painful break up, from the sounds of it a very painful break up. But you will glad to know that this is not an exercise in self indulgent self pitying emo wailing, rather this is the feelings of fuck this, fuck that, fuck you and fuck everything that I vaguely recall from a long long time ago, before domestic harmony thankfully banished the break up to the binfire of my youth.

Sea Urchin

Whilst this might be deeply embedded in personal loss, it also covers the whole gamut of emotions that these events inspire, agony, rage, love and tragedy are all well represented, nothing you haven’t heard before right? Wrong, very wrong. Sea Urchin has channeled these emotions and combined them with the spirit of 50’s teenage death songs and hardcore, pop punk, punk rock and pretty much any other variation you might care to name. These have been thrown in a blender with a suprisingly melodramatic approach that borders on rock opera at times, but don’t let that put you off as, like the album and single artwork, this is a fresh and distinctly left field album that will take you by surprise, regardless of how well prepared you think you might be. The old clichè of expect the unexpected will serve you well here.

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin is led by Matt Strickland, but he hasn’t been left to wallow in self pity alone, he is supported by a more than able cast including producer Katie Von Schleicher, who also provides vocals and piano, bassist Nick Jost (Baroness), drummers Julian Fader (Ava Luna) & Adam Finchler and saxophonist Nate Mendelsohn (Market). It seems appropriate to kick things off with New Guy, this is essentially a fuck that guy song, or as the song progresses, let’s kill that guy and eat him (maybe Ba Da Bing could have him whacked!), did I mention this was a bad break up? From here we span the realms of punk, with manic episodes that are punctuated with self pity, self indulgence, longing, unrequited love and pure rage, all of which are delivered in a distinctly DIY style that is delivered with a distinctly dramatic flair, but this is all a preamble in comparison to the album’s epic closing track.

Sea Urchin

The cherry on this particular cake, or maybe the eulogy in the funeral, is the epic pompous, overblown and rather wonderful closing track, I Beefed It (On My Motorbike). Take all the excess of Born To Run era Bruce Springsteen, classic Jim Steinman era Meatloaf and maybe a pinch of party era Andrew WK, and wrap the whole thing up in a ridiculous teenage death song package and you have what is undoubtedly the most surprising thing you’ll hear this year. Springsteen influenced punk isn’t new with bands like The Gaslight Anthem and Dropkick Murphys (who teamed up with New Jersey’s favourite son), but combining Jim Steinman and Meatloaf with punk attitude is an incredibly unlikely combination, especially as this truly epic track sees Strickland duetting with a karaoke queen from his day job. This shouldn’t work, it really really shouldn’t work, but somehow something that sounds so very very wrong is oh so very very right.

Sea Urchin have delivered an album that embraces all facets of a near terminal break up, the rage, the sadness, the hope and the loss, and has delivered it all with humour and a tendency for the over dramatic. In short this is a truly unique release where you pick up traces of touchstones from everyone from The Misfits to Meatloaf. Surprising, ridiculous and, unlike Strickland’s break up, an absolute joy from start to end, there is no mawkishness, just a channelling of all the feelings we have all experienced at one time or another. What shape the follow up will take may well depend on the status of Strickland’s relationships (I Beefed It (On My Motorbike) II maybe), but for now Destroy! is probably the most surprising and ridiculous, and I mean that in a good way, album I’ll hear this year.