Less indie-precious than their 2013 debut, Solarize smooths the digital edge of their early sound in favor of warm tones, hypnotic beats, and a focus on a full album experience as opposed to a collection of singles.
Opener "Space" sets the stage, transporting listeners on a tropical escape to Capital Cities' own outer space beach resort, where songs such as "Venus & River" and "Levitate" swirl through the ether. Standout singles "Swimming Pool Summer," "My Name Is Mars," and the irresistible "Vowels" stand tall alongside previous catalog gems like "Kangaroo Court" and "Origami," while slinky deep cuts "Sunburn Surrender" and "Gatekeeper Julie" inject hypnotic groove.
The pair's signature horns are employed throughout, whether jolting "Swimming Pool Summer" to life or cooling off "Only If You Want It" with its sexy sax comedown.
Even though the former commercial jingle writers haven't rehashed "Safe and Sound" to cash in another indie hit, there's plenty to lure listeners here. Physically satisfying and endlessly funky, Solarize is confident, mature, and Capital Cities' strongest statement to date.
~ Neil Z. Yeung
Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian first worked together as jingle composers before they formed the Los Angeles–based duo Capital Cities in 2010. That early work in crafting instantly memorable tunes pays dividends on the pair's debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. It's filled with catchy tunes, clever '80s-influenced synth-pop arrangements, and smart turns of phrase.
The joyous first single, "Safe and Sound," leads off the album, followed by equally infectious indie-dance gems like "Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast" and "I Sold My Bed, but Not My Stereo." The centerpiece track, "Farrah Fawcett Hair," is a glorious bit of mock-anthemic dance rock with cameos from André Benjamin and—improbably but wonderfully—NPR announcer Frank Tavares, whose deadpan listing of life's little pleasures lifts the song up to a whole new level of joyous absurdity.
~ Apple Music
The band’s start happened in 2008 when Sebu and Ryan were fledgling musicians looking for a break in the industry. They found an opportunity to write a jingle for a cola ad, but the ad agency opted to go in a different direction. The duo decided to turn the demo into an original record and called it “Safe And Sound”. They formed a band called Capital Cities and released the single in 2011. It became a global pop smash and earned a Grammy nomination for its music video. Sure enough, the cola brand that once rejected the song came back around to license it for a different ad campaign starring Zendaya.
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