Melbourne-based alternative pop/rock band City Calm Down have returned with their second album, Echoes In Blue. Following their 2015 debut, In A Restless House, this record demonstrates a strong progression in nearly every aspect of the band’s craftsmanship: the songwriting, production, instrumentation, and general atmosphere of Echoes In Blue is utterly absorbing and, at times, truly mesmerizing.
Opening with delicately smooth, effervescent synths on the excellent ‘Joan, I’m Disappearing’, the record casts its immediate spell on the listener with surprising and abrupt lyrics, “It turned to shit on April 18th”, atop the gentle instrumentation. It is not long until City Calm Down exercise their masterful capability at pulling the rug from under the listener; teasing and surprising the audience in exciting and engaging ways. Tracks such as ‘In This Modern Land’ and the titular ‘Echoes In Blue’ almost bear resemblance to something by New Order, while others such as ‘Decision Fatigue’ and ‘Blood’ demonstrate the band’s excellency in crafting densely textured yet accessible alternative music. At its beating heart resides Jack Bourke’s incredible vocals, perhaps the strongest aspect of the record.
The album feels both deeply intimate and grandiose; effortlessly blending troubling and personal songwriting with spacious and expansive soundscapes. More than just a collection of songs, the band wisely crafts a concept album that tells a singular journey of love, grief, and redemption, making Echoes In Blue an extremely compelling and rewarding journey that rarely misses a beat.