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By Capital Cities
In 2009, Ryan Merchant responded to Sebu Simonian’ Craigslist ad and the two began writing jingles together. When their success in jingle-writing led to the formation of Capital Cities in 2011, no one could have predicted the duo’s first full-length album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, would become one of the most exciting debuts of 2013. With 70s-Disco beats, 80s-Synths, and triumphant trumpet sounds, Capital Cities’ In a Tidal Wave of Mystery proves to be a catchy and heartfelt record filled with songs about living life to the fullest.
The album opens with Capital Cities’ breakthrough single “Safe And Sound”, which is currently dominating the Alternative Songs charts and is well on its way to doing the same on Billboard’s Hot 100 — and for good reason. “Safe And Sound” is swathed in soaring synths and trumpets that accentuate the song’s hopeful declaration of reassurance. It serves as a necessary reminder that, in a society that’s constantly barraged with bad news, people can thrive even in the worst conditions. Capital Cities set the bar high by opening up In a Tidal Wave of Mystery with such a powerful track, but thankfully they manage to carry out the song’s hopeful energy throughout the rest of the album.
For example, the minor key and chorus of “I want it all and nothing less” in the following song, “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast”, suggests that if you want something sitting on your hands and waiting for it to happen won’t get you anywhere. You need to go after and chase it for yourself before it leaves you behind. The album continues down this path with its second single, “Kangaroo Court”. It’s the perfect song for taking the night out on the town with four to the floor beats and jazzy trumpet melodies that include what may be the most emphatic trumpet solo in recent memory.
Then comes “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo”. As Merchant and Simonian sing about “mix tapes” and “broken faders” while a trumpet soars to even higher peaks that in “Safe And Sound”, the song shapes into an inspiring tribute to the power of music and goes so far as to imply it’s even more important than sleep. Capital Cities later pays tribute to more of the little things that inspire them with “Farrah Fawcett Hair”. They give shout-outs to specific movies (Back to the Future 2), actors (Daniel Day Lewis), even nature (sunsets, double rainbows) and food (Nutella). There’s also a Miles Davis shout out followed by fitting trumpet solo and a verse from Outkast’s Andre 3000. Both “I Sold My Bed” and “Farrah Fawcett Hair” are all about the little things that make life worth living. These are complemented with songs about Capital Cities’ approach to life such as “Center Stage” and “Tell Me How To Live”. The former is a confidant boast about living life like you’re the center of attention, whereas the latter is all about being independent and making ones’ own life choices, as they proudly state with the chorus, “Ain’t nobody gonna tell me how to live.”
The rest of In a Tidal Wave of Mystery features uplifting variations of the 70s Disco and 80s Synth-Pop models. Be it the bouncy keys of “Chartreuse”, the carefully crafted lyrical deliveries of “Origami”, or the soothing and heartwarming melodies of “Love Away”, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery paints a promising portrait of two talented song writers whose intense love of life is reflected in the power of their music.