Review: San Cisco – Gracetown

For a couple of years now, San Cisco seemed to have been fading: no new tracks, rare live appearances, and the generation of teenagers who fell in love with the WA quartet’s début single Awkward almost four years ago are leaving their teens behind. The bright young things stopped being so, well, bright, and it appeared (from the outside at least) that lack of ambition or willingness to follow up their first album might bring them down.

Their second album, Gracetown, however, furiously proves me wrong. While it’s not necessarily a groundbreaking, genre-defining record, it is everything San Cisco needed to do regain lost ground.

Similar to their self-titled début LP, most of Gracetown’s tracks are short: it’s a proven formula which continues to work, each song jam-packed with bubbly energy and clever ideas.

They’ve come leaps and bounds technically, too. Guitarist Josh Biondillo presents innovative, more complex ideas to complement Scarlett Stevens’ ever-brilliant drumming. Jordi Davieson’s voice remains, as always, dreamy as hell.

The collection of songs reveals a grab-bag of influences — from indie-pop to disco and hip-hop — but somehow the amalgamation of genres makes perfect sense. Thematic ideas are better developed and expressed, too, and the progression is exciting to hear.

The nostalgia of Beach is replaced by About You, and Too Much Time Together is the grown-up cousin to Awkward. Technically, lyrically and performance-wise, it’s easy to see just how much work has gone into the record. It’s all evidence of a more reflective incarnation of San Cisco, and they’re guided expertly by producer Steve Schram.

It’s a treat to have Preatures frontwoman and general heroine Isabella Manfredi guesting on Jealousy. Her nuanced voice brings a drowsy grittiness, a refreshing change from the bouncy boy-girl pop we’re used to from San Cisco. It’s almost hard to believe that The Preatures opened for San Cisco in late 2012, but exciting to see two very different acts still supporting one another.

What’s most evident from Gracetown is that San Cisco have finally found their feet. It’s Australian indie-pop at its finest, and after a few years of growing up and finding a sound to keep old fans engaged and inspire a new generation of listeners, they’ve delivered a record that’s more accessible, enjoyable and repeatable than their first. I concede defeat; San Cisco aren’t fading. They’re only just beginning.

‘Gracetown’ is out now via Fat Possum/Island City Records.

Watch: San Cisco – Too Much Time Together

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