Australian indie pop band San Cisco have been off the radar for quite some time now, without so much as a performance or a released track since the release of their self-titled album. San Cisco was filled with bright, poppy sounds and whimsical lyrical content, with an overall fantastical feel. However, San Cisco’s sophomore album Gracetown is worlds different, and seems to embody something darker and more introspective.
The first thing I notice with Gracetown – and indirectly, the band – is that it automatically sounds older and more mature, even though they kept things short and sweet like their debut. “RUN” starts the album off on an upbeat and energetic note, but it’s more than a simple, catchy beat. It slowly builds on top of it’s own sounds with added techniques underneath the melody that create a bubbly, yet mysterious mood. “Too Much Time Together” follows it nicely, with guitar chords reminiscent of their past work. The lyrics are witty and honest, and the harmonies are vivid and colorful. “Magic,” “Snow,” and “Wash It All Away” show off more of the clear 50’s and 60’s influences in San Cisco’s music, and the consistent switches from disco to indie pop. It’s here that the album shifts in mood, and throws listeners off in more ways than one. “Jealousy” changes the overall vibe considerably, taking things into a much darker and deeper route. The beats sound exotic and tribal inspired, and Jordi Davieson’s voice is as sultry as it’s ever been. This vibe is expanded even more with the track “Super Slow,” where the harmonies are soft and velvety smooth, giving me a mysterious, noir feeling. I enjoyed the change in emotion and feeling, but I wish it was presented in a more fluid way as opposed to an immediate shift. In fact, I absolutely love the darker side of San Cisco more than their poppy, overtly saccharine side, so I would have even liked to see the whole album done in this darker persona. “About You” has a lovely momentum in the instrumentals, making it one of the strongest on the album as well as the track “Skool” because of it’s quirky lyrics. It’s nostalgic and just the right amount of sweet to let you know that you’re still listening to the same band, but modern and vulnerable enough to know that there’s dimension.
San Cisco’s sound has definitely evolved to a place that is more self-aware, but at times it falters and wavers despite all of it’s apparent internal growth. Often times I felt that they couldn’t focus on one particular feeling despite the clear overall theme of troubled relationships and love, considering the shift from happy to moody. However, the fundamentals are all there and each member of the band seems to fully understand their strengths and weaknesses. Gracetown is valiant effort and I have to commend them on evolving their lyrics and instrumentals to a place of maturity. San Cisco is slowly but surely proving their worth in the indie music world, and this album is just the beginning.
photo by Kane Hibberd