If you’re a classic rock fan you’re likely to fall head over heels for the opening track on this album. What comes afterwards is a little bit of everything soulful and stylish enough to impress in a different but equally effective way, and throughout the nine tracks in full – you’re almost certain to be absolutely on-board with whatever it is that Cities You Wish You Were From are about to do next.
Walk On Water is the big one, kicking things off with classic rock and roll energy, a level of weight and distortion, intertwined with a complex and detailed, clever bit of soundscape crafting. The performances are tight, passionate, always at one with each other, and the song itself lifts you up almost immediately – out of you current moment and in to this more energized, motivated one.
Long Way Down redirects the mood and drives with something of a Gypsy-jazz shuffle with a blues-rock backdrop. The intensity increases throughout the hook, a warm fuzz fills the space, as do some additional vocals, and all in all this feels like a much more serious or reflective bit of songwriting. At the same time, it has something of a knees up feel to it – think day-time festival set; a little lighter but still a huge moment you don’t want to miss.
What You Want mixes things up further and takes the form of a country or Americana moment of delicate, acoustic expression. The lyrics and the leading voice have a personal sense of vulnerability about them, which is well received at this point – the band make sure to keep the journey eclectic and interesting. The soulful groove that follows has a seductive smoothness about it, the music is subtle but smart, and the vocal performance is stunning – straight from the heart, adding genuine depth to every line.
FKA Kiss sees the pace storm sky high – infectious riffs and a manic beat accompany one of the project’s most anthemic, indie-rock outbursts. Knife and Agenda follows with a similar sense of urgency. This one takes you back in time a little, offering nineties rock nostalgia and a carefree sense of grit and swagger.
Another change in direction is offered with Overabundance – a uniquely stylish, expressive piece of music, complete with a dramatic set-up, plenty of space – stops and starts – and a varied vocal delivery that moves from falsetto to hard-hitting as and when the music requires it. The unity between the song and the instrumentation works beautifully, the creativity is on point and runs throughout every element. The guitars and bass are superb, as is the beat – the whole thing screams character. I was reminded a little of Under The Influence Of Giants here, though elsewhere certain moments moved from being Aerosmith-like right the way through to a flicker of Prince. This particular song is a total grower, evolving to be a personal favourite and becoming increasingly easy to escape within the more times it plays out.
Gonna Gitcha is another totally stylish and infectious bit of blues-rock that hits in a refreshing, full-volume-necessary sort of way. Some Stuff Gone follows and reverts back to a darker, denser rock sound. Whether it’s The Black Keys, Pearl Jam or Maroon 5, Cities You Wish You Were From have so many snippets of influence in their sound, so much so that it’s clearly just their own thing at this point. This album is eclectic and fascinating at every moment – each song offers something new; lyrically, melodically, vocally, musically. Some Stuff Gone is a mysterious and interesting song that reaches the height of its own passion in a captivating way.
Arkansas (Acoustic) brings the album to a close with a relevant touch of raw, intimate performance. The band always seemed to be capable of any kind of live show anyway, the performances and the details, the unity between all involved – incredibly impressive no matter the pace or the style of the song. This final track though lays it all bare in a totally personal and gentle way. That Eddie Vedder thread of inspiration shines beautifully. A stunning song and a blissfully peaceful moment that seals the deal just right. It’s a heart breaking piece but it leaves you with a strange sense of gratitude for the way things are at present. Absolutely download this album. Let it play, then let it play again.