San Cisco


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After releasing an album that sounded like it was made out of pure sugar with maple syrup drizzled on top, the Australian combo San Cisco change things up a little bit on their follow-up, Gracetown. Their approach is still pure pop, with light arrangements, jumpy tempos, and feathery vocals predominating, but a little bit of sadness creeps in around the edges now and then. A few songs detail breakups, either old or impending; some have a quiet feel that nothing on the debut did; and the whole thing is just a little less perky and manically happy. All of which leads to a much more well-rounded album, both sonically and emotionally. That first album seemed a little fake, like they were trying too hard. Here they are still trying very hard, but it feels like there are actual human beings working the levers instead of smiley, happy robots. They also do a little bit of stretching here and there, bringing in some slinky new wave pop on "Snow" and a little hip-hop swagger on a couple tracks, and, best of all, they channel Len's classic pop trifle "Steal My Sunshine" on the Scarlett Stevens-sung "Magic." The ballads are a nice change of pace, too, with songs like the regretful "Mistakes" giving some much-needed balance to the jumped-up pop songs like "RUN" and midtempo tracks like the late-night, rain-slicked streets "Just for a Minute," giving more evidence of the band having real feelings. The only real misstep on the album is the too-tricky-by-half "Jealousy," which comes off like a novelty instead of the weird change of pace they probably thought it would be. Aside from that, the album is a nice progression from their debut, showing some fine emotional and musical growth while still being as catchy as the best pop should be.

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