The Holy Sea
A Beginner's Guide to the Sea
8 Track, LP (2008, Amphead)
Related: The Holy Sea.
A Beginner's Guide to the Sea is the first Holy Sea release since their debut Blessed Unrest appeared in 2000 to widespread acclaim and inevitable Triffids comparisons. Thankfully, while their productivity makes Portishead looks like workaholics, the quality control remains sky-high.
Theirs is a particularly Australian muse, a sound that oscillates between the spaciousness of said Perth icons and the drunken Irish stomp of say a Crow or Augie March at their most vigorous. Henry Skerritt's songs are wordy, but his passionate delivery and wry humour save them from ever coming across as bookish – witness the pedal(steel) to the floor passion of 'Ode For The Woman Who Would Be My Wife', where he describes himself as “the kind of fucker who puts it all in rhyme”.
'Paddy, There's Got To Be One More Bar Open' sounds exactly as you'd think, or hope, it should sound from the title. It's a rollicking sea shanty with rough-hewn harmonica wheezing to great effect in between lyrics like, “I ain't got a drinking problem … yet”. The melancholy downside of this ode to Melbourne dives comes in the form of closing track, 'The Parting Glass', a song as spare and simple as a lullaby.
This is a very welcome return. Let's hope we don't have to wait until 2015 for the career-defining third album.
by Daniel Herborn