Capital Cities
In A Tidal Wave of Mystery


2.0
poor

Review

by Green Baron USER (159 Reviews)
September 17th, 2013 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shut up, shut up, shut up.

As of September 28 (39 weeks into the year), there have only been five songs to top the Billboard Alternative charts. Amongst those five songs are Muse's "Madness", "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, "Sweater Weather" by The Neighbourhood, "Royals" by Lorde and "Safe and Sound" by Capital Cities. Out of all of those songs, "Safe and Sound" might just be the most un-alternative of them all. One could argue that Billboard charts are complete rubbish (and frankly, most of the time, they are), but regardless, I've heard many people label Capital Cities as "alternative" or "indie rock". None of those terms are accurate to describe the duo of Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, who make synthpop and electronica. But labeling Capital Cities as an "alternative" or "indie rock" group makes them seem trendy or "cool" to listen to, when in reality they aren't that much different from your average pop group.

Just like your average pop group, the album is just completely bland, with not much substance to either Merchant's vocals or the instrumental works. It's clear that Capital Cities' quirks are limited to trumpets and synths, and after the first three tracks, everything goes downhill. "Safe and Sound" was chosen to be the opening track, and it's easy to see why. Some of its lyrics may be a bit stupid (the "hurricane of frowns" sticks out to me the most), but it's got a catchy chorus, nice synth riff, and that's all I expect from these guys. But if my standard for Capital Cities are on "Safe and Sound"-level, then I'm only expecting nothing but above-average pop fare. "Patience Takes Us Nowhere Fast" is just as good though, with nice verses, and a big dance-able hook, and it comes without the silly lyrics that "Safe and Sound has. "Kangaroo Court" is a great track reminiscent of the 80's pop scene, with a pulsating synth riff that radiates around the song (although the girl voice randomly stating "I don't do sexy" kind of kills the vibe).

It's clear that Capital Cities have run out of ideas within the opening three tracks, and the rest of the album is filled with such lifeless, vapid songs that none of them stick out after repeated listens. Ryan Merchant's limited vocal range and weak delivery really wears the album down, and on songs like "I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo", they're more cringe-worthy than appealing. "Farrah Fawcett Hair" at least tries to be unique, but ends up falling flat on its pretentious face. NPR's Frank Tavares' opens the song by stating "Support for Capital Cities comes from... Lazy Hooks", and the track's attempt at irony fails mainly because the song's hook is lazy; it's repetitive (and "good ***" is not a line that you want repeated), and it's musically stale.

That's what In a Tidal Wave of Mystery is; an inane attempt at bringing synthpop to the popular masses. Most of these songs are way too polished for their own good, with all the layers of synths and trumpet horns hurting them rather than helping them. The one standout track in the album's latter half is "Tell Me How to Live", and that's because there are actual guitars being played in the background. Some may say that Capital Cities don't need to make good music, because they already have a wide audience of pop fans, misguided hipsters who listen to this album because of its "indie" tag, and synth nuts. But until Merchant and Simonian actually make an album worth remembering, I'll stick with "Safe and Sound" and "Patience..." for now.



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user ratings (73)
Chart.
2.6
average
other reviews of this album
FromDaHood (1.5)
Commercialization at its most polished...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Twelvetribes230
September 17th 2013


116 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I liked the EP, but every track on this that wasn't from the previous EP is pretty lazy/boring.

Green Baron
September 18th 2013


24130 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

never even heard the EP, just based this off of itself.

LambsBread
November 28th 2016


6524 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is GOOD SHIT all of you are crazy.

LambsBread
December 29th 2016


6524 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This isn't synth pop they play instruments



These reviews for this album are shit

oisincoleman64
January 6th 2017


2143 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bandwagon hate, even RYM has this over a 3

TVC15
January 6th 2017


8973 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Everything 21P has gotten shit ratings since Blurryface face dropped here and RYM. Idk how to connect that here



Passion Pit honestly sucks kinda funny how it's there in the recommended albums section of the review

Digging: Alkaline Trio - Alkaline Trio

LambsBread
January 6th 2017


6524 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is the closest a modern band has ever come to pink Floyd for me



I really don't get the hate for this at all. Seems like a bunch of pretentious people who want to brag about how they can play an instrument and shit on this album for using some samples... Same people who would call Kanye a genius for using exclusively samples

TVC15
January 6th 2017


8973 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Woah how did a bunch of the comments get nuked? Or I could've sworn this had a lot more comments

LambsBread
January 6th 2017


6524 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've noticed a lot of old threads were nuked since I came back

LambsBread
January 7th 2017


6524 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sputnik's rated some albums stupidly before but this honestly might take the cake



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