San Cisco's Jordi Davieson has been chatting happily over the phone for about 10 minutes before he says something that might catch fans offguard: "I just can't write a happy song." It's a bemusing statement from the vocalist-lyricist, given that the West Australian four-piece have built a career off the back of bubbly pop tracks, starting with breakout single "Awkward" back in 2012.
"But I think that's kind of the beauty of pop music," Davieson adds with a laugh. "It's light and dark at the same time."
The quartet (completed by drummer Scarlett Stevens, guitarist Josh Biondillo and bassist Nick Gardner) may specialise in crisp, nimble pop songs with rhythms that could spread grins on the toughest of faces, but within them are some formidable topics – young love and heartbreak, the frustrations of modern relationships, the gradual erosion of friendships, just to name a few.
On this month's The Water, their third full-length recording, they tunnel even further into these explorations. Recorded in Fremantle with longtime producer Steve Schram, The Water was created with one goal in mind: to distil the San Cisco sound down to its most pure essence.
"We looked back at [2015 predecessor] Gracetown and went through what worked and what didn't," says Davieson. "We charted everything out and said, ‘OK, well that's working, that's connecting with people – let's work with that.'"
Schram urged the band to keep working, keep jamming, keep refining. Around 10 completed songs were left off the record, with another two floating around that they might release at a later time.
The result is their most mature album to date. Lead single "Hey, Did I Do You Wrong?" is peak San Cisco: bright, snappy rhythms coupled with a classic earworm hook and lyrics that tug at heartstrings.
The title-track is particularly arresting, with Davieson placing a love story within an asylum seeker boat journey.
"I can't even imagine how scary that is," he says. "To be going through something like that, and then to be going through it with someone you love and care about more than your life."
The album's title doesn't actually correlate to the track, Davieson stresses. The band wanted an ambiguous name as a blank canvas for the stories they were telling. "The name exacts a lot of imagery, and is detached in meaning from the songs," he explains. "Two separate identities that are being presented together – that's what The Water is."
From issue #787 (June 2017), available now.
Topics: San Cisco