Review: Tropical Summer Songs from Cayucas

cayucas. Photo by Dusdin Condren cayucas. Photo by Dusdin Condren

Cayucas‘ music has been variously described as ‘tropical’, ‘summery’, ‘breezy’, and ‘surfy’. Guitars are often high toned and shimmery, the percussion shakes and toms rumble, and lead singer Zach Yudin sings like he hasn’t got out of bed —- that is to say that it’s so effortless. Not that he doesn’t have a vocal range, because he does, but there’s a relaxed lazy summer day essence to his singing. Words come out of his mouth in stream of consciousness style. Listen to him go on the band’s latest single off their sophomore album (Dancing at the Blue Lagoon), ‘Moony Eyed Walrus’: “swords, ice plant like the back of a stegosaurus, and your arms are tired, sand dunes are spiking up, the brights are brighter, the heights are so much higher.” So much for surfy rock, sometimes Cayucas are downright trippy.

Of course, just like debut album, most of the new songs sound summery, whatever that means. Yet, what really makes Cayucas a ‘summer’ band is really the fact that Yudin sings about summer and its myriad of collocations. There’s cannonballing into pools, naked torsos and long flowing dresses, music from every street corner. However, whatever we think of summer, it’s undeniable that its effervescence is due to the fact that we have to go through winter. It’s fitting that Dancing At The Blue Lagoon starts off with ‘Big Winter Jacket’, a song that takes time to get going, from slow horn blares to energetic strums accompanying a crescendo of “From your bedroom you would hear the drummer drum, when the band began to play. There were raffles and consolation prizes!” Then Yudin’s vocals glide over a slow but sweet guitar riff.

Raffles and consolation prizes. It seems mundane but it’s also striking in its particularity. For whatever reason, this is what Yudin thought of when he was flipping his mental book about summer imagery. Something about the way the air is still and how the chirps of insects hang in it like unanswered texts from your high school crush. No matter how old we get and how many responsibilities we rack up, summer always reminds us of school holidays which felt like eternities. On ‘Ditches’, Yudin is particularly nostalgic, with mournful tempoed strings rather than their trademark jangle of guitars. Every memory of Yudin is sketched like a frozen frame of a VHS tape, “The town is quiet, it looks like a background, trophies on the shelf are no longer around.” Most people enjoy summer for the spontaneity and present-day excitement but these are excellent songs that remind us that summer’s about the past too.

Cayucas’ album is out June 23 on Secretly Canadian.