After being featured on Perez Hilton’s pop compilation album, performing during his 2013 SXSW show and the unexpected success of their debut single, “Safe & Sound”, currently reaching a peak of number 90 on the Billboard Hot 100, Los Angeles-based indie pop/rock duo Capital Cities are readying their debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, with the help of Capitol Records on June 4. Featuring new material and tracks which appeared on previous EPs, the new album is a unique and interesting combination of pop, jazz and rock. Supported by excellent production, the vocals of the duo make for a fresh listen capable of burning up the Top 40 charts.
With the ability to nail a live performance and command a stage, Capital Cities are finding their place among well-known names as the album’s lead single, “Safe & Sound”, is slowly but surely climbing up the charts. Listeners will quickly learn not to expect the typical radio-friendly formula dominating the airwaves. “Even if we’re six feet underground, I know that we’ll be safe and sound”, the duo sings on the jazz-inspired, summer loving track which opens the effort.
The group grabs pieces from the dance and rock genres to create most of the songs that comprise the track list of the album. “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast” aims for a more indie rock sound. While the lyrics depict the idea of never second guessing the possibility of a relationship, the vocals come off smooth and convincing. “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo” describes one’s childhood and teenage years, a look back on life for the duo. The track is a cool mixture of dance and rock, with interesting background production doing its job successfully.
Jazz influenced efforts contain most of the highlights for the duo and their debut. With “Chartreuse”, a track detailing the desire to express your true identity, the duo sings “to show my true colors, I must first be exposed to the light,” while an intriguing saxophone performance supports in the background. “Tell Me How to Live” brings back the funk. The rebellious song of independence is a fun and carefree piece. The vocal performances are solid, the instrumentals, including a somewhat out of place string guitar solo, are lively and on point.
When production is scaled back in favor of slower, meaningful moments, magic still seeps from the group’s mouths. Ballad-like tracks such as “Chasing You” and “Love Away” show that Capital Cities want their listeners to look past every obstacle, every interference, and focus on love. With summer finally upon us, both tracks would be ones to blast with the windows down, forgetting every worry, every trouble.
Vocals, production and instrumentals remain strong throughout, but the album runs into a few problems in terms of the writing and content. Lyrical confusion is fine on tracks such as “Farrah Fawcett Hair” featuring Andre 3000 where nonsensical babble turns into pop gold, but hinders others including “Origami” and proposed second single “Kangaroo Court”. It is a hit or miss at times.
In a Tidal Wave of Mystery is a unique mix of inspirations encompassing numerous genres currently being depleted of all their resources. While the mixture may have sounded like a mess on paper, especially to two men who met through Craigslist, the final result is a representation of immense talent and the need for something fresh on the radio. Instrumentals such as the guitar and saxophone accompany the vocals of a duo that went from crafting jingles to creating a new take on dance, pop and rock. At times, lyrical content provided by Capital Cities will be misunderstood, leaving one to scratch their head, but it’s the only minor setback.