Capital Cities: In a Tidal Wave of Mystery – Review

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Every once in a while, you come across a song, album, movie, or book that no one is talking about. For whatever reason, it has been overlooked by society and left to be forgotten. Capital Cities’ new, and first, album doesn’t quite fit this description–or at least it doesn’t yet.

Aside from one radio friendly single, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery doesn’t have much going for it. The album has been privately produced, so it doesn’t have the marketing budget behind it that more high-profile albums receive. It also doesn’t exactly follow popular music trends or feature any current mainstream artists on any of its songs (Andre 3000 is the one exception). No, if it weren’t for In a Tidal Wave of Mystery‘s single radio friendly track, “Safe and Sound”, I probably would never had stumbled on this album at all, and that would have really been a shame, because this album so SO GOOD!

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Okay, so maybe it’s not the best thing I’ve ever heard, or even the best album that came out in 2013, but it definitely deserves more praise and recognition than it’s getting.

One of the greatest things about this album–which is probably a result of being privately produced–is that it doesn’t sound much like anything else out there right now. It’s a mixture of funk, EDM, jazz, and has a real strong `80s vibe. And believe it or not, it works! There is no song on the album that doesn’t feature either a trumpet, a saxophone, or a guitar, and I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s so rare to have real instruments in music today, so hearing instruments being featured prominently in an album is truly a breath of fresh air. Take that fact and add to it that every song is incredibly upbeat, and it’s a wonder that Capital Cities isn’t already starting to become a household name.

Ultra Music Festival Weekend 2 - March 22, 2013

That being said, this album is far from perfect. There’s more than a song or two that just aren’t good. For instance, there’s an almost whimsical quality to “Lazy Lies,” that just annoys me. And “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast” and “Love Away”, while not being terrible or unpleasant, are not memorable, and they come off as a bit bland.

One of the most interesting things about many of the songs from In a Tidal Wave of Mystery is that I generally enjoyed the singing in the verses more than in the choruses – an odd thing, considering that most songwriters strive for the opposite.

There were exceptions, of course. “Safe and Sound” and “Farrah Fawcett Hair” had great choruses that made me think, “I’ll probably be humming this later.” The others, however, like “Kangaroo Court,” “Origami,” and “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo,” had choruses that either came off as a little harsh or uninspired. That’s not to say that these songs are not good, though. To be fair, “Kangaroo Court” is one of the best songs on the album.

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Overall, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery is a wonderful album, bringing some fresh sounds to a very stale music scene. It is a great first record attempt by a couple of ad jingle writers, especially considering that they made the album under their own label and produced it entirely by themselves. I said that this album could very well be forgotten by the mainstream in a few years, and unless Capital Cities knocks out a homerun with their next album, it very well may. If it wasn’t for the success of their Safe and Sound EP from 2011, the album may have never been made.

But maybe I’m being a bit too pessimistic. Capital Cities is an extremely talented duo. I’m sure they can be twice as successful with their next album, although I imagine they might hire another producer to help them make some more radio friendly tracks. Whatever their future is, I am in love with their current offering. If you haven’t listened to In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, you’re really doing yourself a disservice.

Overall, I give this album an 8 out of 10.

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And for those who care to know, I have ranked the songs from the album from best to least best.

1. Safe and Sound
2. Farrah Fawcett Hair (feat. Andre 3000)
3. Kangaroo Court
4. Origami
5. I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo
6. Center Stage
7. Chartreuse
8. Chasing You
9. Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast
10. Love Away
11. Tell Me How To Live
12. Lazy Lies

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