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Record Review 

As the disc gently whirred to a stop, I started from my reverie, refocusing my glazed eyes and stilling my unconsciously bobbing head. Though a vague and lingering buzz (admittedly pleasant) continued to hum through my brain, I realized with agitation that I had no idea what had happened to the last 40-odd minutes of my life. Sure, I felt more relaxed, even oddly refreshed, but for the life of me I couldn't recall one distinguishing detail about what I had just heard.

There, in essence, is the review of the new Sea & Cake album Oui. But, so as not to leave you with such unequivocal ambivalence and flagrant ambiguity, I'll elaborate a bit.

On their fifth album, precocious Chicago quartet the Sea & Cake seem hell-bent on becoming indie rock's very own Steely Dan. Their recordings, once brash and exploratory, have given way to prosaic, jazz-lite noodlings both wholly pleasant and overwhelmingly undistinguished.

The trend continues with Oui, which is a shame because, sonically, the album is as beguiling as anything in the band's catalog. Less chilly than the electronic flirtations that characterized 1997's The Fawn, the new album brims with humid grooves and lush melodies. All of it wafts by breezily, agreeable enough to be sure, but with precious little variation. The cumulative effect is hazy, indistinct and frankly a tad dull. Not recommended to those hoping to be musically engaged or individuals operating heavy machinery.

The Sea & Cake plays the Echo Lounge, Sun., Nov. 19

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