The devil is in the details for the Sea and Cake. Since forming in 1993, they’ve hardly altered their core sound–summery melodies draped over metronomic grooves–but again and again they’ve subtly retooled other aspects of their music. Over the course of five albums Sam Prekop’s vocals have grown more ethereal, the guitars have become more translucent and distant, and analog synthesizers and unfussy drum programming have come to the fore. The quartet does it again on One Bedroom (Thrill Jockey), its first album in three years, but you have to pay close attention to notice the change in direction. There’s a bit of an edge to Prekop’s singing–on a song like “Left Side Clouded” he opts for a more natural, earthy tone–and he multitracks his voice on the chorus of “Mr. F” for a playful sort of relay effect. Though there are still plenty of electronic beats and breezy bossa-nova-flavored grooves, drummer John McEntire sounds more forceful on a couple songs here than he has since the band’s early records–on “Four Corners” he borrows a motorik groove from Neu! Guitarist Archer Prewitt is more aggressive too, selectively adding fuzz to tracks like “Left Side Clouded” and “Interiors.” The quartet also tackles its first cover, a terrific version of David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision” with guest harmonies by John and Frank Navin of the Aluminum Group. The band seems to be making up for the gap between recordings–in May they’re releasing an EP called Glass that includes more new tunes plus remixes by Stereolab, Broadcast, and Carl Craig. Prewitt plays some austere piano on the instrumental “Traditional Wax Coin,” and “A Echo In” features the heaviest guitar attack in the band’s history. Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.