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EP Review: San Cisco – Beach

It’s hard not to be a tad concerned when a promo shows up on your desk adorned in seaside-themed artwork, titled Beach, and by an Australian band whose name seems to be a contraction of San Francisco. In a post-chillwave/surf-infused world, it feels like pandering of the highest order.

Let’s get the facts straight, though, before slinging any accusations of inauthenticity out into the online ether: San Cisco grew up in the Western Australian coastal city of Fremantle, a chief seaport for the larger city of Perth, so they’ve probably clocked up enough beach-adjacent time to validate such a predilection for the seaside. They’re also young – these guys are barely out of high school – and enthusiastic enough that it’s hard not to feel obliged to offer them a sympathetic ear, in spite of any stylistic faux pas.

Beach, a teaser EP ahead of the four-piece’s self-titled debut album getting a UK release in May next year, does exactly what it should; its four tracks each depict a different face of the band’s sound, attempting to wrangle in as many potential listeners as possible. The problem, though, is that Beach doesn’t always bait its hooks with the most enticing of treats.

The EP’s title track, while featuring an instantly addictive chorus, is so sickly that it becomes hard work listening to it more than once – it’s reminiscent of San Cisco’s Aussie peers Architecture In Helsinki, though it lacks that group’s adept grasp of pop songwriting subtlety and knowing when to deploy a hook to killer effect.

‘Golden Revolver’, with its twang-laden guitars and ‘60s pop feel, recalls Girls – albeit in a far more hi-fi manner. What made Girls so intriguing during their relatively short lifespan, though, is sadly absent here; ‘Golden Revolver’ lacks the carefree abandon with which Christopher Owens and co. portrayed themselves. Instead, it carries itself with an overly self-conscious, premeditated demeanor – and that rarely makes for good rock music.

The rest of Beach passes along amiably enough, though it rarely excites. ‘Reckless’ makes for pleasant background listening but lacks any major talking points outside of its self-imposed vacuum of interest; while ‘Lover’ is a slice of inoffensive, synth-heavy indie pop in the vein of The New Pornographers or The Most Serene Republic. It’s a disappointing end to an EP that never really jumped up the gears enough to feel at all worth revisiting.

As a statement of intent for San Cisco’s future development – and especially for their upcoming full-length – it’s hard to see Beach whetting too many palates. While San Cisco aren’t guilty of aping the current beach-themed zeitgeist in music for maximum appeal, they’re still a severely uninteresting proposition, and one that could easily get lost in a sea of blogs likely to chew them up and spit them back out.

- Alex Cull

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