The Worry, Seekae's third album, is still very much the work of a highly intelligent and self-disciplined trio, whose gift for ear-worm melodies is now at the fore. In all other respects, though, it's a completely different record. A set of lean, pop-tinged tracks that draw from rock as well as dance music (percussionist Alex Cameron is on vocal duties, with his smoky, indie croon), it's a reinvention that recalls New Order's after Joy Division.
Seekae's current sound ranges from melancholy house music to ruminative neo-folk. Layered with winning sonic detail, tracks like "Monster" illustrate how Seekae are operating on a different level of complexity from their peers. Its percussion, as fluid as running water, could only be the work of a band steeped in bass music and R&B, but one that is clearly looking beyond modern scenes for its inspiration—listen to those klezmer-like brass and woodwind interventions. You will find such élan at every turn. Even the weakest track, the festival-ready "Further," is elevated by its rhythmic slipperiness and jaunty woodwind.
Elsewhere, The Worry hits real heights. "Another" draws from the hardcore continuum palette with the same heartbreaking effect as James Blake. "Hands" takes dubstep's lazer-like synth stabs and bowel-quaking bass and turns it into music of real delicacy and restraint. "Oxen Calm" seems to unfold back-to-front, switching between plunging bass and downcast indie guitars as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The sudden and repeated stylistic switchbacks in "Test And Recognise" are the kind of exhilarating sleights of hand that keep The Worry sounding fresh no matter how many times you listen to it. The late introduction of a simple organ pad on that track is one of the most exciting things you will hear in 2014.
The same could be said of "The Stars Below," a wonderfully enigmatic slice of deep house propelled by effervescent, popping garage rhythms—it's a track that could have come out on either Kompakt or Hyperdub. Seekae are neither a dance act nor an indie band. Instead, they are out there on their own, doing something else, which by their next album they may well have abandoned. Either way, I will be listening.