Sand beneath my feet, facing an enormous stage at Manly Beach a few weeks ago, I heard the first offering of the new San Cisco album, Gracetown. I’ll admit: when artists play their new material, I can’t always hide my disappointment. As an avid fan of their debut, I really only wanted to listen to their previous hits like Awkward, Rocket Ship and Fred Astaire. But desperate to show off their brand spanking new record, they treated the audience to almost half of their new album. Just one week later, at the UTS O’Fest I was again standing in front of San Cisco as they played a similar set. If I was happily curious to hear their new stuff at Manly Beach, I was positively beaming the second time. From first track to last Gracetown does not disappoint, eclipsing even their acclaimed debut album.
The album cover full of colour and just a touch of nostalgia is a good representation of what the record is all about. Littered with a sense of nostalgia, it’s largely entwined with heavy and constant references to love, and women who he appears to have very complex and drawn out relationships with (making it perfect for song writing of course.)
The foursome never take themselves too seriously, and slap a helping of fun into every track and note they hit. Before the new album landed a few days ago, they released two of their most energetic tracks as singles and are correspondingly the first two of the album. RUN is a quirky track that is pulsated by a repetitive heavy breathing that acts as a quasi-drum through the whole song. One of the best-produced songs on the album, it nevertheless cannot take the title for the most intoxicatingly catchy. That must go to Too Much Time Together which in the vein of Awkward achieves something great in its chorus and milks it for all its worth. It’s not hard to imagine a sea of people chanting it back at festivals around the country.
Another advantage in seeing the band live twice in the space of a few weeks is that it gives you a good indication for what tracks the band are especially proud of. One of the songs featured in both of their sets was Snow. Beginning as a slow paced ballad, one could be forgiven for thinking it would be a reprieve from the frantic nature of the album. However, it transforms into a restrained pop hit that doesn’t try too hard and is all the better for it.
In my opinion, the best track is the eclectic Wash It All Away, packing a punch exactly when the album needs one. It best demonstrates one of San Cisco’s greatest strengths, the ability to rapidly change the pace and feel of a song within moments.
While there are inevitably a few less compelling tracks, it works seamlessly as a whole. Perhaps part of the reason is the short length of the songs, with some as short as two-and-a-half minutes, that keeps the album rolling, or perhaps more accurately; sprinting. Throwing in some soul and funk for good measure, they have demanded attention just as they were beginning to fade into the background. San Cisco has come back firing, and has a whole lot of energy and pop in their arsenal.