Misheard lyrics – don’t you just love them? Green Seagull are named after a lyric from the Rolling Stones song ‘Paint It Black’: “No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue”. It’s rather odd language in itself, but those words are from 1966 – a time when a lot of experimentation was going on. Green Seagull’s sound is clearly very influenced by American bands from the 1965-1967 era; the Association particularly come to mind, while there are echoes of the Byrds, the Seeds, the Mamas & the Papas and early Love.
The band is composed of Paul Nelson (ex-New Electric Ride) on guitar, Paul Milne (ex-Hidden Masters and Magnetic Mind) on bass, Sarah Gonputh on keyboards and Elian Dalmasso on drums. They got together in early 2016, and the two Pauls have been the principal songwriters so far. They’ve received very positive reviews from Shindig! magazine, among others, and their songs have been played by Mark Radcliffe, Gideon Coe and Marc Riley on BBC 6 Music.
Their new single, ‘(I Used To Dream In) Black and White’ has just come out on limited edition white vinyl and is available at select record stores and online on Mega Dodo. Jangly 12-string guitars and strong harmonies are well to the fore, and with lyrics such as “She was the one who painted in the colours of her mind” and “Like a flame she fired up the darkness into light”, it’s a bit reminiscent of Love’s ‘She Comes in Colours’. Clocking in at just over three minutes, it’s bright and infectiously catchy. The B-side, ‘Not Like You and Me’, has a more urgent sound, partly through the addition of keyboards, which at times bring to mind Pink Floyd’s ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’, which is always a good thing. They all play well and a lot of care has clearly gone into the arrangements. It’s a distinct improvement on their less memorable first single, ‘Scarlet’ b/w ’They Just Don’t Know’, which was released in June 2017.
They have been tagged by critics as being in the neo-psych scene. Nonetheless, when a young band are playing music heavily influenced by another era, there’s a fine line to be trodden between creating something new and pastiche, albeit a very good one. The jury’s still out on that question as it’s still early days for them, but they’ve certainly created a couple of great songs so far and I’m looking forward to hearing their debut album, which is expected in March next year. Meanwhile, they have a London gig scheduled at the Victoria in Dalston on 15th February, with the possibility of others before then. In a vibrant young band like Green Seagull, the spirit of the mid-60s is very much alive.
Ian Mole is a teacher of English to overseas students and a walking tour guide in London, specializing in music-related tours.