The Sea and Cake returned in 2007 with Everybody, the band's first full length in just over four years. The record finds the band continuing to perfect its singular brand of dreamlike, hot-buttered pop music that sounds delicately handcrafted, yet effortless all the same. Sheets of glowing guitar tones skip along propulsive percussion underscored by gently funky, introspective bass lines, all adorned by breathlessly delivered lines of lyrical poetry. As always, the band is made up of Sam Prekop (guitar and vocals), Archer Prewitt (guitar), John McEntire (drums), and Erik Claridge (bass).
"It's a rock album," says Prekop, though its certain that only The Sea and Cake could make a rock album like this. He cites rock's standard bearers The Kinks as an influence on this, "the most straight ahead, even ‘rootsy' record we've ever made," and one hears it right away in the driving opener "Up On Crutches," with its dual guitars meditatively strumming and tolling bells. The band has focused on bringing more of a live sound to Everybody, employing very little overdubs, and emphasizing sudden contrasts within songs. "A live cut and paste technique," Prekop says, borne out of the band's meticulous songwriting process. The band moves away from its standard sound on a number of tracks here, including the jittery "Exact to Me" with its percussive guitar lines blending African highlife, and rocksteady rhythms, and on the intimately spare "Lightning," a song that went through several rewrites and, in the process, revealed the title of the album. The result is a hauntingly simplified song that serves as a fine centerpiece on this sprawling album.
For the first time since their 1993 self-titled debut, the band enlisted the recording efforts of someone other than McEntire, this time calling on the talents of Brian Paulson, a producer with a miles-long resume that includes work with Slint, Wilco, and Angela Desveaux, among hundreds of others. The change offered the band a chance to perform more as a unit without McEntire pulling split duties behind the board and the drumkit. After rehearsing the songs for nearly a month, the band holed up at Key Club Studios in Benton Harbor, MI with engineers Bill Skibbe and Jessica Ruffins. "A kind of rock-and-roll boot camp," Prewitt remarked of the studio known for its extreme isolation and lack of distractions. "We knew we were there to make an important record. We ate and slept there and did little else."