Full of uplifting guitar pop draped in luscious harmonies, Cannibal Sea is a shaft of bright sunlight piercing the skyscraper canyons of New York. Which is the theme of the album, a reflection on the relative attractions of town and country, and the urges of stability and mobility - the desire to put down roots while moving on to somewhere new.
The conflict is crystallised in "Penny & Jack", where over an organ groove embroidered with 12-string guitar fills, the protagonists outline their positions: she loves New York, he would rather move to somewhere quieter. The Byrds-y brio extends to the chiming guitars and falsetto hook of "Don't Know Why (You Stay)", in which one party - presumably Penny? - is chided as "a marionette, a slave, your legs are wood and tied to the city".
The wanderlust theme is pursued further in "Sin City" ("It's no Pittsburgh/ Don't you go/ Ohio") and given bogus roots in " Rabbit", a UK-to-USA travelogue. With echoes of The Byrds, Beatles, Mamas & Papas and Monkees absorbed inside modern songcraft, The Essex Green are the US equivalent of The Magic Numbers.
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