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The Album Leaf | Seal Beach (Better Looking)
Jimmy LaValle, also known as The Album Leaf, has had a pretty good run as of late. His last album saw a US release via indie stalwart Sub Pop, his music is getting comparisons to Sigur Rós, and now his old releases are getting another life thanks to the wonders of the reissue. 'Seal Beach', originally released in 2003 in Spain, finally gets the royal treatment. The once-EP now takes the shape of an album, boasting five new live tracks to back up the five studio recordings.
Those initial tracks still contain their delicate and explosive nature, no matter how much tinkering has taken place under the remasterer's knife. For many the added live tracks will inspire purchase and, recorded during LaValle's tour with stately peers, Sigur Ros, each track is a fresh interpretation.
Unfortunately, the songs begin to wear thin quickly. Essex drags on for far too long, growing monotonous halfway through the melody. Nothing changes as the album moves along; leaving the listener with a potentially thrilling album that grows stale and boring in a hurry. Taken in small doses, The Album Leaf's brand of instrumental bliss is something refreshing and inspiring, but in a large quantity such as here on 'Seal Beach' can appear unfulfilling and bland.

Justin Spicer
October 2005