Following Bigfoot's success, Cayucas' Zach and Ben Yudin drafted producer Ryan Hadlock to work on Dancing at the Blue Lagoon. Hadlock, whose other clients include the Lumineers and Brandi Carlile, lends the band's second album an expensive sheen: "Ditches"' flutes and pianos are downright lush, while the acoustic guitar on the title track is nothing less than flawless. Touches like these might objectively sound better than Bigfoot, but they don't do the band any favors. Blue Lagoon's glossier surroundings make the Yudins' songs seem more derivative than before, pointing out their similarities to the Shins and Vampire Weekend in ways that feel glaring instead of familiar. Bigfoot's intimacy and breeziness made these homages easier to take, but here Cayucas' smooth tenor vocals, jangly guitars, and verbose lyrics lack the charm of either of the aforementioned acts at their best, or that they themselves had on their debut. Even Dancing at the Blue Lagoon's best songs sound overly labored. "Big Winter Jacket"'s oversized chamber pop and the lilting "Moony Eyed Walrus" deliver a nice-enough, Platonic ideal of 2010s indie rock devoid of individuality; it's only on "A Shadow in the Dark" that the Yudins come close to recapturing the joyous spirit that animated Bigfoot. Unfortunately, Cayucas end up faring worse when they try to bring some quirk into the proceedings, whether on "Hella"'s grating chorus or the odd, unpleasant backing vocals on the otherwise ultra-smooth "Backstroke." While Dancing at the Blue Lagoon brings Cayucas' shortcomings to the fore, more often than not it's more blandly pleasant than irritating, serving up a watered-down tropical drink of an album that just doesn't connect the way Bigfoot did.
Dancing at the Blue Lagoon Review
by Heather Phares