Despite Archer Prewitt and Sam Prekop's equally dazzling solo ventures, The Sea and Cake are putting the 15th candle on their recording career. Let's not forget, the rest of the band have their own projects to keep the creative juices flowing. John McEntire’s work at SOMA Studio and with Tortoise and Eric Claridge’s painting all feed into The Sea and Cake aesthetic stream. The Chicago quartet aren't going anywhere folks. While the time interval between 2003's electronic-tinged One Bedroom and the brisk Everybody in 2007 proved to be a protracted gestation, Car Alarm comes hot on the touring heels of its post-jazz predecessor.Like a true jazz band, Prewitt (guitar, piano, vocals), Prekop (vocals, guitar), McEntire (drums, synths), and Cladridge (bass, synth) are the epitome of a "tight working band." They know their performance and studio ticks so well because they know music theory so well (lead singer Prekop has a PhD. in Music). The Sea and Cake can also afford to be fluid enough to color outside the technical borders they ascribe their music. That's jazz at its core isn't it?Speaking of jazz, Alarm is a jazz drummer's wet dream, at least for the first three songs. McEntire's snare hits and toms burble up and stop just short of your expectations. There's also a distinct Tropicália flair heard on "Fuller Moon." The clear acoustic and electric guitar lines scuttle over the surface as a warm steel drum resonates over the top. "Aerial" sounds like a rushing jazz-rock holdover from the Everybody sessions. An effervescent 4/4 drum kit builds until an explosion of airy guitars. Prokop's imagist vocals retain their signature breathlessness. They are slightly more clear this time around but the beauty has always lied in his percussive delivery and not lyrical exactitude. "On the Letter" echoes the bright and stripped-down acoustic guitars of Everybody's "Too Strong," minus the electronics. Elsewhere though, Sea and the Cake interstitial instrumentals tracks that flirt with the cold beats of IDM ("CMS Sequence") or the warmer steel drum track "Mirrors."A pervading sense of familiarity hangs over Alarm. Even a perfectly capable rock track like "Car Alarm" bring to mind its less hurried Everybody cousin, "Crossing Line." "Up on Crutches" and "Weekend" seem to be joined at the hip as well before the high-pitched electronic elements come knocking on the latter. None of these tracks are major misfires, they just lack some of the full-band panache of Oui, or even One Bedroom. There could be an argument made that Cake's compositions have become better since Prekop's voice became a bigger production figure but this less cerebral approach wafts in your ears with not much heft. "New Schools" brings to mind some of the noodly jams of the past but then you have another acoustic track like "Window Sills." The effete lyrics (delay effect employed or not) steal some of Cake's dichotomy.Their salted-out percussion and sweet harmonies have ceased being colorful antecedents that coyly play tag. "Down in the City" and "Pages" are some of the listless culprits. They remove some of the perpetual motion the Chicago quartet's new recording strategy would reflect. Car Alarm sapped all the Sunday-afternoon sex out of the Cake quartet. Prekop's impending fatherhood makes this new release a decidedly easy album to swallow but not if doesn't fall apart before it hits your mouth. It may have only taken three months to hammer out their eighth album in the studio but The Sea and Cake's latest dessert could have firmed up a little longer before it was cast into the seas of production. Despite being sociable to the last strum, nobody wants soggy cake at a party.70%The Sea & Cake on Myspace