Released in 1985, THIS IS THE SEA stands as the Waterboys' most ambitious and impressive record. The Scottish band takes the majestic, Phil Spector-influenced "Big Sound" of the era, and applies it to grand tales of the ocean and the countryside. While singer/songwriter Mike Scott's plaintive vocals and cinematic lyrics are prominent, the album's shimmering production also showcases the bold layers of instrumentation and lush arrangements. "The Whole of the Moon" spotlights the regal keyboard lines of Karl Wallinger (who would soon leave to form World Party), providing a nice contrast to moodier tracks such as "The Pan Within," a mythology-heavy song that glides along on a slinky melody, and "Medicine Bow," an urgent, expansive guitar-fueled rocker. Scott masterfully caps off the album with the jangling title track, evoking a glorious sense of liberation while sailing into the sunset. (Note: The 2004 reissue of THIS IS THE SEA includes an outstanding bonus disc that culls 14 tracks from Scott's archives, and features a bevy of previously unreleased songs.)
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