Splashing in the Soundwaves of Stay the Sea
Stay the Sea is an experimental band based in Athens, Georgia. The anime series Hanamonogatari inspired their latest album, I was jealous of her. The album needs to convey a broad range of emotion if it wants to be an unofficial soundtrack for a show. . . but it also needs to be a stand-alone work of art itself.
The first song, “Devil,” is an ominous, pared down soundscape. Notes bleed over grumbling bass until they overlap in strangely pleasing distortion. Just over a minute long, it transitions quickly into “For three years, I’ve been changing what I call myself and collecting people’s misery.” This track retains some of the grunge of “Devil,” but overall it’s more hypnotic, its cymbals, growling bass, and electric guitar entangling the listener, then fading out . . . before coming back with a vengeance. The song accelerates towards the end, sounding both frayed and unravelling, and beautiful. I was jealous of her harnesses the potential of carefully cultivated chaos. Far from ruining the songs, it makes their various components drift from one another into a constellation; separate, they form a whole. “For three years, I’ve been changing what I call myself and collecting people’s misery” is the first instance of this.
“A Problem That Time Would Solve” shows the emotional depth of I was jealous of her. Slow, melancholic, and minimalist, it sounds like a depression tinged with hopefulness was translated into sound. In “Distort,” behind the drumming, reverb-heavy electric guitar, and synth are faint noises that sound like keys dropping and doors closing. This song is one of the more notable ones on I was jealous of her due to how its artistic inventiveness proves that music does not have to be tidy. It can blur the boundary between instrumentalism and noise, order and entropy, and produce something nice.
The quick strumming of “Speak” produces a feeling of excitement or urgency. The song rises in intensity towards the end, sucking the listener in and making them become lost . . . and then it fades out. As a result, “Speak” feels unfinished, and ends right when it could’ve really blossomed. Besides having a great title, “She was a really cheerful girl, so no one had any clue” starts with a relaxed combination of low-fi drumming and strumming. The track eventually goes silent for a moment, and then a quiet, delicate melody arises. It is beautiful, a galaxy-swirl of high notes that fade in and out of audibility. It is like the musical equivalent of glimpsing something . . . and then the song becomes charged with heavy cymbals and a high-pitched, beautiful melody. This song is one of the best ones on I was jealous of her.
“I was jealous of her,” the eponymous track, has a simple melody. Three notes repeat one after another as a low synth seeps into the listener’s earbuds. After about two minutes, passionate guitar rises in pitch in sync with heavy cymbals. The ending, however, is abrupt. A quick thrashing that then tapers into silence, it sounds as if I was jealous of her wanted to end with a bang, but was cut off before it could deliver one.
I was jealous of her is like an acoustic map-book, a collection of intricate soundscapes that will lead you to different places. Almost all of them make use of reverb, electric guitar, and cymbals, but they can take you from somewhere chill, to somewhere that will give you goosebumps. Apart from a few songs, like “Crutch” and “Make Me Hate You,” which didn’t stand out, and a few truncated endings, I was jealous of her is sure to make lots of other ambient and post-rock artists jealous.