Album Review // SEAWAY ‘Fresh Produce’
Compiled of new singles, alternate versions of old classics, covers and re-releases, Fresh Produce is a new album from Canadian pop punk band Seaway.
Aptly named Fresh Produce, the album comes just a year and a half after the band’s latest release Vacation.
The album opens with two new singles, both of which had their own releases in the last few months. Both have their own distinct sounds, but are clearly Seaway songs. The opener Pleasures is an infectious summer song. The catchy instrumentals are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and have you longing for sunnier weather. The second track Blur, however, has more of an autumn vibe. It’s no surprise that the band has been playing it live since their autumn US tour, racking up almost half a million plays on Spotify already.
The next four tracks on the album are alternate versions of Seaway hits. It starts off with Something Wonderful off Vacation. The upbeat song has quickly become their most successful single so it’s only logical that it got the acoustic treatment. Stripped down to an acoustic guitar and the occasional xylophone, the song proves that it deserves to be Seaway’s most successful release even in its rawest form.
In the case of 40 Over, the alternate version doesn’t add much to the quality of the song. The instrumentals are slightly more electronic, but all it adds is a distraction from the lyrics. The alternate version of Lula On The Beach goes the acoustic route again, adding a piano and more delicate vocal parts. I would argue that, as much as I like screaming along to Ryan Locke’s vocals on the original, this version of Lula is better than the original and deserves a few replays before continuing to the last alternate version: Slam / Shy Guys.
Slam and Shy Guys are originally two separate songs, the former being the opener of 2015 album Colour Blind and the latter part of Hoser, their 2013 release. Slam first contained Seaway’s iconic line “Everything is cool, man!” The lyric doesn’t sound quite as satisfying when it isn’t screamed at the top of your lungs, but the acoustic guitar that follows in the alternate version sounds impressive nonetheless. The song switches effortlessly to Shy Guys around the one minute mark and continues that way until the end of the song, throwing in an “everything is cool, man” in the background vocals now and again. Overall, the song works well as a mash-up, but the subject matter and sound of Shy Guys allow the acoustics to come to fruition more effectively than Slam.
Next, the album contains three covers, starting with their earlier released cover of Just What I Needed, originally by The Cars. Ryan’s vocals have a similar feel to Ric Ocasek’s and the song fits Seaway well, blending in with their discography effortlessly. This is a slightly different case for their cover of Hand In My Pocket, an iconic song by fellow Canadian Alanis Morissette. The song doesn’t sound like a typical Seaway song and the band does a worthy attempt at honouring the song, but it doesn’t come quite close. Their third and last cover was also previously released, this time on the Punk Goes Pop album from 2017. The cover, of Closer by The Chainsmokers, proves that the song was in dire need of some good guitars. I would consider this the only cover on the album that actually exceeds the original.
The last four songs on Fresh Produce are a re-release of the EP All In My Head from back in 2014. Seaway self-released three EP’s before the release of All In My Head, but the latter was their first EP under their current label Pure Noise Records. The EP contains songs that deal with love and rejection, even tying it all in together to an extent to tell a story of trying and failing to make a relationship work. In Alberta, Ryan sings “On my way home I told you I would stay for you. It’s getting late now, I told you I would wait for you.” This is followed by “let down, gotta sort each other out” in The Let Down and eventually “and it’s my fault that I waited” in If I Came Back For You. The vibe of the EP is different to the infectiously fun sound of Vacation, but it balances Fresh Produce out nicely and gives a nod to the evolution of Seaway.
Despite the amount of previously released content on the album, Fresh Produce shows the versatility of Seaway, from carefree pop punk to delicate acoustics and back. And here’s to hoping they will play Lula acoustic from now on.