On Car Alarm, The Sea And Cake again proves itself a band of many shades, by way of a subtle progression. "Aerial," "A Fuller Moon," and "On A Letter" begin the album with relatively simple arrangements that rest on Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt's catchy weave of guitars. Drummer John McEntire and bassist Eric Claridge keep these songs pumping ahead, hinting at the band's live sound, but Car Alarm doesn't start to open and show its full promise until the sixth track, "Weekend." Acoustic guitars echo back and forth as the bass line jumps to the front like a nervous question. The song seems to move at three speeds simultaneously: itchy electronica, post-punk rocker, and trip-hop wallow. It isn't as simple or clumsy as just nailing the elements together—this band throws in surprises only when they feel, paradoxically, natural. On the second half of Car Alarm, songs like "Pages," "Down In The City," and "New Schools" keep things bobbing forward and fatten up on texture, twisting around corners to sweep up moods in that puzzling yet catchy way that only Sea And Cake tunes can. "The Staircase" neatly closes up the album (before the exit music of "Mirrors," that is), as Prekop croons out a cool mist of vocal hooks, wrapping these peculiar adventures, as he always does, in smooth confidence.