Written by Christian Bischoff
Dancing at the Blue Lagoon opens in a symphonic swell of orchestral brilliance, ushering forth their new album with an almost cinematic flair. On their sophomore effort, Cayucas does away with any amateur bashfulness that may have existed on their first album. The album begins on a strong note with “Big Winter Jacket”, whose intro is reminiscent of cinema soundtracks of old. The song is the first of many beachy tracks that continue to make Cayucas a staple on any beach day playlist. Their brand of beat afro-pop for which the band was alternatively praised and criticized for on their first record, Bigfoot, makes a strong return on Blue Lagoon. At times, the album sounds like the stylings of early Ezra Koening filtered through a more tropical screen.
The new album signals growth and change in the Cayucasphere, as the band grows more confident in their songwriting and charges boldly into new territory. From the swelling beginning of “Big Winter Jacket” to the meandering guitars on “Hella,” the record leaves little question of Cayucas’s great talent. Any sonic similarity to the chaps at Vampire Weekend is not a question of originality, but of shared artistic inclinations. Great minds often think alike, and this adage is nowhere more true than in the comparison of these two bands. On their first record, Cayucas existed as a sort of younger, beach bound cousin to Vampire Weekend’s prep school vibes.
Some common features still exist in their sophomore album, but above all else Cayucus has established a firm identity for itself as a band. The album is not a watered down Contra, but a beautiful, melodic composition that should be praised for its artistic merit rather than balked at for its similarities to other albums or styles. The swirling violins on “Ditches” lend the song a gravity and maturity absent on Bigfoot, while the title track’s casual “Wah-ah-aaah” calls beneath sun-soaked guitar lend the record a levity that allows listeners to lose themselves to the summery storytelling of lead singer Zach Yudin.
Yudin is a storyteller, telling of summery memories of love affairs and nights out dancing along the waterfront. Even slower moments, like “Blue Lagoon (Theme Song)” invoke the dying embers of a beach bonfire, underscored by a slowly picked acoustic guitar like those brought along to summer gatherings. All in all, the album is a great summer record, capable of standing on its own artistic merit. Catchy hooks and rhythms pervade nearly every one of the album’s nine tracks. Only “Backstroke” falls a bit short of its mark, with its syncopated, subdued sound that feels out of place with rest of the record at the beginning. The record is a solid sophomore effort, and an even better record than their first.