REVIEW // Cristobal and the Sea – Exitoca (City Slang)

This article originally appeared in The Skinny

In the 1950s and 60s, the genre of exotica harnessed the escapist dreams of a generation of working American men and women. Sixty years on, a new generation are looking for some release from everyday struggles, the looming spectre of Brexit, the Trump administration and more. Step forward Cristobal and the Sea, whose latest album Exitoca aims to reclaim the escapist notion of the exotica for those who need it now.

The band take the listener on a quick-fire journey through genres cherry-picked from around the globe, smashing together everything from Brazilian rhythms and Syrian pop, to bossa nova, Balearic beats and a hint of Britpop. Even the interludes that pepper the record add new sounds into the mix, with the likes of Father and Producer introducing vintage sci-fi film melodies.

Through the ecstasy, though, sometimes it’s hard to catch your breath. The band jump between one idea to the next in their quest to tie together as many genres from the diaspora. When they take their time to weave these elements into a unified whole, such as on Goat Flokk, it’s euphoric, but other times it can feel a little too scattershot and fleeting. Creating an album that attempts to help praise the virtues of foreignness and otherness is admirable, but it’s frustrating these ideas couldn’t have come together into a more cohesive package.

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