The Sea and Cake 

One Bedroom

One Bedroom starts out perky -- almost too much so. Like that little dog, Chester, who constantly kissed up to Spike in the Tom 'n' Jerry cartoons, "Four Corners" opens up the record with an insistent hook; a chiming tug on your sleeve that says, "C'mon, guys! If you forgive us for making that mediocre record, Oui, back in 2000, we'll be your very best friends!" The track bounces along for three minutes before Sam Prekop starts in with the ol' whispery stuff, and quicker than Spike could say, "You know where there izzit a cat?," One Bedroom's got you. If Oui left you feeling like maybe Prekop blew his stash on his superb solo outing the year before, this album will restore your faith in the Sea and Cake, if not as musicians, then at least as master marketers.

Whereas the Chicago quartet -- Prekop, part-time cartoonist Archer Prewitt, bassist Eric Claridge, and Chicago wunderkind John McEntire -- came perilously close to being this generation's Steely Dan on Oui, now they've picked up the pace on One Bedroom. The musicians let in gentle feedback and fuzz and more glitchy electronic goodness than ever before. (Kalem Krackpot Theory #691: Thanks to the influence of Black Dice, noise may replace whalesongs as the hot new ambient effect.) The title track has a solid bossa nova base, and there's a positively disco vibe to this record that, coupled with Prekop's bedroom voice, handily wins back the band's Late Night Makeout Soundtrack Kings title. (One interview with Prekop had him in denial of the fact that folks would get it on to the Sea and Cake's music. Maybe he knows that he's singing about politics, but no one else seems to.) One worry, though: The album's closing track, a New Wave-over of Bowie's "Sound and Vision," is slated to be One Bedroom's first single, complete with animated video. Come on, guys ... do you really need everybody to like you?

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