Two and a half years after their self-titled debut made waves in the Australian indie music scene, Fremantle favourites San Cisco return with follow-up album Gracetown. While the quartet have not left the sound of their youth behind, it seems they have spent the passing years out of the spotlight maturing their outlook and expanding their thematic horizons. Gracetown remains mostly absorbed by the band’s quintessential, indie-pop sound, informed by myriad elements from other genres including disco and funk, but their sophomore LP sees the likeable outfit explore the intricate themes of love and lust with a maturity cultivated by the simple act of growing up.
Lead single RUN leads off from the gates, proving the band has not lost the infectious grooves that defined their early success. The upbeat, move-inducing track features Jordi Davieson’s still youthful voice and effortless falsetto alongside quirky percussive breathing and handclaps. Magic also makes use of breathing as a peculiar and effective rhythmic device, this time more pacifying than bopping, while also re-introducing us to drummer Scarlett Stevens’ uncomplicated vocal. Early highlight Too Much Time Together feels fittingly like a grown-up version of their breakthrough hit Awkward, revisiting infectious hooks that are both sugary sweet and impressively anthemic.
Wash It All Away showcases the band’s spirited ability to navigate polarising sentiments in the track’s dynamic play between the blasé, wry verse about a cheating lover, and its more assertive chorus that self-assuredly demands answers. Similarly, Snow opens as a shadowy pop-ballad before transitioning into a buoyant indie anthem. Elsewhere, however, the band less successfully explores slower tempi and darker dispositions. The second half of Gracetown begins to drift due to a noticeable lack of energy. Super Slow is only saved by the effervescent performing relationship between Stevens and Davieson, while Mistakes and Skool prove that the band is still discovering how to slow things down without losing their established vibrancy, or sounding bored.
Gracetown does, however, finish on a high note with the funk-informed Just For A Minute, ironically the only track that pushes the 4-minute boundary. Memorable 80s-inspired synth motifs play with driving syncopation, wistful vocals and a glowing guitar solo.
Although moments of lethargy do exist in the second half of the album, on the whole, San Cisco’s talent for writing irresistible hooks is undeniable, and Gracetown will undoubtedly still resonate with the same kids who had Awkward on repeat throughout 2012.