It’s undeniable that water is incredibly powerful. For starters, we can’t live without it. It’s inside of us. We swim in it. It rains and pours down on us. Lakes, rivers, and oceans inspire us. It melts, freezes, and evaporates. Water represents change. It can wash away the past and be a source for new growth. In a lot of ways, water is everything, which is probably why it’s such a fitting title for Australian indie poppers San Cisco’s third album, The Water (released 5/5/2017 via Island City Records).
The Water is the quintessential upbeat summer soundtrack, with an array of quirky pop songs laced with groovy synths and even a bit of disco. The band is happily jamming along in explosive colourful fashion, falling back on the infectious charming sounds that put them on the map back in 2012 with their breakout tune “Awkward.” The Water is the group’s third album, which is effortlessly breezy and fun at its best. As a follow up to the sophomore record Gracetown, San Cisco has proved you can’t quite put them into a box of any kind, with each musical step they take being slightly more adventurous than the last. The third time is most definitely the charm.
There’s a lot to be said for songs that add the perfect amount of cheeriness to your day. They can turn everything around as soon as the bass drops, or when you hear a chorus that instantly makes you smile. It’s those seemingly innocent moments where music thrives, when it washes over us like a powerful wave and makes all our problems melt away. The Water does just that.
Watch: “Hey Did I Do You Wrong” – San Cisco
It is a sleek and shiny record. Clocking in at 10 songs, the album drifts along with nostalgic San Cisco tracks such as “Hey Did I Do You Wrong,” which could have easily be pulled from the band’s debut album. It doesn’t drift far from the band’s signature summery pop, but it shows the band has made a home within its indie-pop niche. Other tracks such as the groovy “Make Me Electrify” showcase experimentation and growth. Many of the songs have simple lyrics about day to day life, which makes it grounded and down-to-earth. Frontman Jordi Davieson sings about the all-too relatable struggles of awkward conversations, getting over lovers as his wistful vocals are stretched over surf-tinged dreamy pop.
Much like the free-flowing capabilities of water, the album is very fluid in its sound. Opening with the funky electro “Kids Are Cool,” the band experiments with a jangling sonic burst of upbeat fuzzed out pop, sounding like a marriage between Tame Impala and Daft Punk. With an expertly crafted bass-line, the song is a testament to independence and staying true to who you are:
Free your mind of expectations
You do you and keep them guessing
Or you’ll be another cog in the machine
Lock your screens!
Watch: “Kids Are Cool” – San Cisco
It’s the perfect sprint to start off the record. Next up, the second track “Sunrise” is very repetitive in its oohs and ahs, but overtly calming in its chorus. It’s vibrant and swimming in happy-go-lucky vibes, and drenched in sugary sweetness. Diving into the melody, it is the perfect laid back tune to put on repeat.
“The Distance” is true psychedelic rock with warped synths and MGMT-ish lyricism, making for an instant earworm. It’s one of the strongest off of the album, with spacey synths that easily recall the glittering ease of a disco dance floor. Bubbly and delightful, it’s easily meant to get stuck in one’s head.
I wanna connect with you if it ain’t too late
Baby would you tesselate
If I change for you
Then would you change too
The song capitalizes on familiar themes from the band’s previous releases, such as tension in relationships. Straightforward and cheeky as always, it’s a sad topic dressed up in a shimmery ’80s fashion that easily becomes addictive. Revisiting ’80s pop has been one of the biggest sources of inspiration for many artists in the last few years, from The 1975’s sophomore release to Brandon Flowers’ track “Lonely Town.” But San Cisco puts their own spin on the trend, using the retro energy to create super catchy hooks that linger in your mind. The same can be said of the tracks “SloMo” and “Waiting for the Weekend.”
Watch: “SloMo” – San Cisco
Title track “The Water” is the most dynamic song by far. If Vampire Weekend took a tropical vacation, this would be the outcome. Its brilliant cheeriness is dressed up with kooky alien-like synths and melodic buoyancy. The dance-ready tune is primed for the beach; immersed in sunshine.
The Water is an album that brings together San Cisco at its peak. Though it isn’t in any way a drastic departure from their old sound, in this way it is a well-executed refinement of the jangly pop fans have come to know and love. The euphoric sounds all blend together with a perfect ebb and flow to make for the band’s most cohesive and well-rounded release yet. There is a maturity to all of it. San Cisco are thriving in the moment and showing off the comprehensiveness of what the band does best.
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cover © Ebony Talijancich