Cristobal And The Sea are smooth in a way rarely seen to quite this extent from modern bands. Sugar Now sounds like a more-than-usually energetic lounge / bossanova act in places, which turns out to actually be a good look for them. This is their debut full-length, and is released by the City Slang label.
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- Sugar Now by Cristobal And The Sea
10/10 J Steerforth Customer review, 1st October 2015
Imagine Mark E. Smith, Anton Newcombe from The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Patrick Stewart off of Star Trek and Mo Tucker from the Velvet Underground all took peyote, made their way into a cave, and recorded an improvised jam session onto MiniDisc (Stewart's instrument of choice: Korg Kaoss Pad, since you were wondering), which was then poorly mastered onto vinyl (in what could only be an attempt by audio engineers to sabotage what they saw as something too subversive and dangerous to be committed to wax and then released for general consumption). Then imagine that this vinyl was sent back in a time machine to France in the 1920s, and handed to Marc Chagall, who listened to it on a gramophone and then, as a response, painted an elaborate series of images onto 1x1cm acid blotting squares, tore them all up, blew them around his studio, then picked them all up again and stuck them onto a big canvas into a random order. Then imagine that, in turn, this canvas has been sent back forward in time to 2008, to Banksy, who, using spray cans, made a mural on the side of the Houses of Parliament as a response to Chagall's canvas.
This album would look nothing like that mural.
But what I think it says about the Cristobal and the Sea (CATS for short) sound is true.
This is a gem of an album. The perfect tonic to cure your indie-rock malaise. It all sounds the same, these days, doesn't it? The Enemy, from Coventry? More like The Enemy OF Coventry, am I right ladies!
There are lots of reasons to like this album. It sounds like a group of people in their musical infancy (their Sonic Youth, if you will, to coin a phrase). There are no rules or regulations here. No Brussels red-tape to get in the way of UK industry! Absolutely not! I would say that the songs on this album are like an Evan Davis interview on Newsnight - playful, insightful, daring, and well-researched. The last adjective may only apply to The King (Davis), but I feel like the other 3 are shared by both parties.
But, unlike Evan, CATS have a knack for vocal melodies, and the duties here are shared gracefully between Joao (guitars) and Leila (flute). When they sing together, it sounds like two lovers singing to each other on opposite sides of a riverbank. If you take a listen you'll see what I mean, because it always sounds as if Joao is shouting slightly, trying to make his voice heard over the rushing of the river (extended metaphor: complete).
If we're going down the route of pointless musical comparisons, I would say I can hear lots of Panda Bear (Person Pitch-era), a little Sterolab, and, to highlight how well-rounded and knowledgeable about All Forms of Music I am, some Naná Vasconcelos for good measure.
This album is a Bukowski novel. You can take from it what you like. You can leave feeling erotically charged, inspired, confused, serene, joyous, mirthful, frustrated or philosophical. It depends on what you have ingested beforehand.
Buy the damn thing.
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