When singer/guitarist Kylee Swenson met fellow guitarist Earl Otsuka in their native San Francisco back in 1996, they formed a musical partnership that finally led to the formation of Loquat, as we know it, in 2001. When bassist Andrew Gordon, drummer Christopher Lautz, and later keyboard player Ryan Manley joined, it opened a whole new dimension and before long Loquat were gaining quite a reputation in the Bay Area. Their first album It’s Your To Keep (Jackpine Social Club Records, 2005) followed three successful E.P’s.
Loquat signed to Talking House Records and are now readying themselves for the release of their second album Secrets Of The Sea. Their sound is an impressive, intoxicating, and addictive. It's a mix of electric Bay, combined with a perfectly balanced, often understated lilting vibe that makes this album a joy to listen to. Apparently along the journey of making Secrets Of The Sea, Loquat had a few life experiences thrown at them but have emerged with a set of songs that explore life and all its twists and turns perfectly. It is Kylee, now married to the bass player Andrew, who writes the poetic lyrics. It is the band, of course, that transfers those feelings onto record and what they come up with is both highly effective and perfectly pitched as well as played in a gorgeous and relevant way.
Secrets Of The Sea is as misty as a San Francisco morning. It is dreamy, romantic, and yet, sometimes lyrically, it is surprisingly edgy. All the tracks are further lifted by the space afforded within them by the band never letting over production, or allowing over complication to crowd any of the musical quality. Knowing when not to play is a skill often overlooked and knowing what to play to allow the songs purpose to float off the disk is another. Loquat manage both producing some exquisite moments on a CD of all new material.
Musically, it is very easy listening but there is an edge. Listen to “Go Hibernate,” for example, where they combine both elements succinctly. For me, a European, San Francisco still oozes a rich musical heritage. When I went there a few years back that atmosphere still seemed very evident. The mist rolling across the bridge and the bay, Golden Gate Park and the ghosts of the Haight. Loquat brings to life musically, a feeling that comes of being on the edge of the sea, of looking across the Pacific and of being surrounded by it.
Their press release issued to accompany Secrets Of The Sea describes the album’s theme as one of the anxiety felt during times of uncertainty. On second listen that came very much to the fore. From the dreamlike start of “Harder Hit”, that opens the album, through the wonderfully constructed “Who Can Even Remember?” and the memorably catchy “Sit Sideways”, comes a message loud and clear. Loquat care with a passion about what they are doing and that passion is infectious allowing for a highly enjoyable and, very possibly, timeless album. “Big Key, Little Door”, “Comedown’s Worse”, are other standouts but having said that there are not any dips of quality worth mentioning. The lovely “Those Kinds of Friends” has a sunny vibe over an altogether darker message. Read the lyrics to “In My Sleep” and listen to “Shaky Like The Flu” and I’m sure Loquat will start getting into your subconscious.
This is a band that can paint an emotion through music and convey it perfectly. Smooth, sensuous, and sublime – Secrets Of The Sea worked for me.
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