ALBUM REVIEW: San Cisco’s “The Water”

Cisco

Fremantle band San Cisco exploded into the Australian music scene when their addictively catchy single ‘Awkward’ shot to the seventh spot in the Hottest 100 of 2011. Since then, San Cisco have released two genre bending albums, a delightful self-titled effort in 2012 and the diverse, and funky album from 2015, ‘Gracetown’. With these two uniquely splendid albums under their belts, a new album taking the band’s diversifying sound to the next level has been anticipated for the past two years. Being teased by singles ‘B-Side’, ‘SloMo’ and ‘Hey, Did I Do You Wrong?’, San Cisco‘s third studio album ‘The Water’, has finally arrived and it’s the perfect sequel to ‘Gracetown’, if not an even more terrific successor.

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Calling ‘The Water’ a sequel to ‘Gracetown’ is a fair designation. Both albums share neat and colourful painting artworks from Pete Matulich, a Perth local. Although both albums share traits sonically and in their album artworks, their new album reveals a lyrical maturation from band frontman Jordi Davieson. Married with a shift towards more synth-based instrumentation, Davieson’s songwriting and lyricism reflect a more adult perspective from their earlier output. With so many similarities, it’s important to ask, is this album the second part of a double album-like series?

‘Gracetown’ already moved in a more mature direction lyrically, as it delved into dysfunctional relationships, intense bouts of unrequited love and dealing with being alone after heartbreak. As Isbella was the muse of ‘Gracetown’, it seems a new love interest appears on this album, Molly. ‘SloMo’ seems like the ‘Too Much Time Together’ of this album, as it follows similar scenes of romantic decay.  Almost like a tradition, a theme of jealousy and envy for Davieson’s love interest’s boyfriends or exes seep into his lyrical output. ‘That Boy’ is the ‘Fred Astaire’ of this record, as Davieson takes a more direct approach, boasting about his romantic attributes. Lyrical themes on this effort display Davieson coming to terms with being in his mid-Twenties. Songs discuss ignoring conversations in bed until the morning, themes far from the naivety of their earlier songs.

Instrumentally, San Cisco have always created bouncy, energetic, musical merriment, and the band have never had such a diverse, dynamically ranging record quite like this. The Bass player, Nick Gardner’s warm and scrumptious bass tones compliment a wacky and oscillating synth part on ‘The Distance’ and crunchy, driving drum parts from drummer Scarlett Stevens on songs like ‘Sunrise’ create danceable beats. ‘Hey, Did I Do You Wrong?’, a surefire contender for this year’s Hottest 100, absurdly sounds like a song recorded during a session for their first album, and was buried in a time-capsule. This is not at all a negative thing, on the contrary, the catchy and playful single harks back to the band’s original beginnings which compliments well as a sort of comparison with the band’s newer direction. ‘Did You Get What You Came For?’ is a beautiful, soaring standout song on the album that is lyrically pensive and is an instrumentally ranged 80’s synth-pop piece that optimises many of the album’s themes.

All songs on this album are enjoyable and entertaining pop tunes, but there are some problems in lyrical consistency. An interesting but misplaced critique of hipster culture features on ‘Kids Are Cool’ breaks up the album’s fantastic concept. But other than that, very little negative points can be made about this album. San Cisco have always been the guardians of Australian indie-pop since their rise to fame in 2011, and it’s fantastic to see the band keep the spark alive and burning strong.

San Cisco‘s most recent album is an adorable, yet mature album that isn’t just lyrically relatable but is musically and instrumentally diverse and danceable.

San Cisco will be playing at the 170 Russel on May 19th, you can get tickets here

SAN CISCO WILL ALSO BE PLAYING AT A RADIO MONASH SPPORTED SHOW, URBAN SPREAD!

 

Paul Waxman

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