Close to the Ocean‘s cover art has someone facing the window of a boat, looking in contemplation at a vast body of water. Its first song is the musical version of that scene, with David Skirving singing of waiting for something good to happen, leading to the chorus, “We can go straight to the edge of the ocean / see it all begin again.” California Snow Story itself has gone through changes since its birth in 2002, in terms of membership—the brainchild of former Camera Obscura member Skirving, its current lead vocalists are Sandra Belda Martinez and Skirving himself. The musical style of Close to the Ocean, the band’s first album, is similar to that of their true debut, the 2002 EP One Good Summer, though perhaps more introspective; both recordings put melody and harmony on display, but here they’re always turned somewhat inward. That emphasis fits with the broader musical palette that the expanded format of an album lets seep in—in particular, there’s an almost bossa nova feeling to many of the songs, giving them that classic combination of melancholy and escape. This may resemble a vacation, but one where you spend much of it in your own head: you let the sun and breeze hit your face, but your mind is somewhere else.
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