Singer-guitarist Sam Prekop, guitarist Archer Prewitt, bassist Eric Claridge and drummer John McEntire have played together for nearly 20 years, all while carrying on impressive solo careers in the margins. The Moonlight Butterfly is the Sea and Cake's ninth album (though at six tracks and barely 30 minutes of music, "mini" album might be more accurate), yet it's the first one in some years to explore the experimental electronic underpinnings of earlier records like 2003's Glass, and Prekop's recent Old Punch Card.
In general, because there's less of a "journey" on Sea and Cake records than there is on most pop albums, time often seems suspended, and there are fewer opportunities for immediate gratification. But repeated plays (highly recommended here) reveal bright new rewards. This is especially true of "Inn Keeping," the album's sonic centerpiece, which starts with a static-shrouded heartbeat and ends, after a mellow jaunt on the autobahn, with soft-pedaled synth stabs from arpeggiated analog synth loops. It's the most radical departure from the Sea and Cake's last two pop-minded records (2008's Car Alarm and 2007's Everybody) and it shows that, after two decades of making music, the Sea and Cake haven't lost their desire to branch out. The results are surprisingly sweet.