A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. Such is the case for California indie act Eager Seas. Under the guidance of Seth Roberts, formerly of Watashi Wa, the project was named Eager Seas, spent several years under the overused moniker Lakes, and decided to come full circle to a name that’s admittedly easier for fans to track down.
Their latest release, Mine as Well, seems to pick up where 2016’s Fire Ahead (released as Lakes) left off – but immediately changes course. Fire Ahead was longingly retrospective; it was an ode to Roberts’ California roots, at times referring to topics as specific as individual street names. It was heartfelt and endearing, certainly, but its lyrical approach was undeniably telephoto. Mine As Well takes a couple steps back to tackle life with a wider lens, adding in a considerable bit of ambiguity in the process. That’s not to say either release is worse for its approach, but the differences are notable.
Mine as Well has been a long time coming. Each track of the album has been released on its own over the course of the year, with the album hitting an official release last Friday. Of course, the merits of this approach are debatable: Does the album lose value without full context? Are the tracks actually cohesive or is it just a collection of singles? Is it possible for a listener to approach the album as a whole was a fresh vantage point?
Personally, I’m not sure it matters. Mine as Well is a spotty album to some degree – some tracks are instantly contagious, like “Always On Your Side”, “Jean”, “Calling Out”, and “So What”. Many tracks are hit-or-miss. So ultimately, the “singles” approach to the album worked to provide regular content for listeners and set some interesting expectations.
There are pro-album arguments to be made as well: though the tracks cover a range of influences from hazy indie to 80s dance, Eager Seas feels like one band writing in one time. Many bands who take the route of releasing singles largely lack consistency, and each track can feel as if a different band released it. Mine as Well is congruent and self-aware in this respect; Eager Seas know their sound and are able to experiment within the confines of their creativity. With this in mind, the songs are less of singles and instead have “single potential”.
All that said, it is ultimately doesn’t matter which approach you take. Mine as Well is not a concept album by any stretch, nor does it vie for that position. Instead, it revels in the sultry nuances of nostalgic indie. Its lyrics are down-to-earth and honest. Its pacing is strong. Its length is admirable. Eager Seas may have changed course, but they certainly didn’t take shortcuts on the way.