Cairobi's self-produced, self-titled debut has an international, globe-trotting feel while still maintaining an honest, straightforward, indie vibe.
It’s not surprising, upon listening to the first full-length album from Cairobi, that the band members come from different backgrounds and countries. Hailing from Italy and Mexico (via France), the four-piece band consisting of Giorgio Poti (vocals, guitars), Alessandro Marrosu (bass), Salvador Garza (keyboards) and Aurelien Bernard (drums) also created the album in a number of different locations. Written in Berlin and recorded in Berlin, London, Rome and New York, the self-produced, self-titled album has an international, globe-trotting feel while still maintaining an honest, straightforward, indie vibe.
While living in Berlin, Poti wrote much of the album’s songs as a means of dealing with debilitating health issues. Suffering from frequent, violent migraines, he would often stay still and silent with eyes shut while letting the medication run its course. “Even when the medicine worked,” he recalls, “it would make me extremely sleepy, so some of the music and lyrics on this record were written in a state of drowsiness.”
That explains a lot. As an album of unique, tropical psych-pop, it does contain shimmering moments of hazy psychedelia. The opening track, “Habitat", is a brief, jazzy appetizer (only 32 seconds long) that leads directly into “Gristly Words", where things kick into high gear with a frenetic, syncopated beat running alongside winsome vocals (sounding an awful lot like Destroyer’s Dan Bejar) and a tight, start-stop arrangement. Leisurely, organic funk also finds its way into the mix as “Step Aside” demonstrates, with cheesy analog synth riffs and a plaintive wah-wah guitar that shows off a cosmopolitan vibe.
Still, the lazy feel of the music is deceiving -- songs like “Lupo” (in which bassist Marrosu’s chunky, Chris Squire-like bass lines are on full display) have plenty of smart, complex songwriting underneath the layers of incense and suntan lotion. The same goes for “Systems of Mutual Doubt", where the hypnotic, drone-like experimentalism washes over Beatlesque melodies.
The album has plenty of sonic curveballs, notably “Saint", a heavy, funky, groove-oriented stab at ’90 Britpop. It’s as if the band ran into Shaun Ryder during breaks in studio time. But more often than not, the band stays fairly consistent with its trippy, percussive space pop, like on “Ghost", where fat, sloppy synth stabs live happily alongside Bernard’s loose, limber drumming.
Cairobi is a band with loads of potential and influences that run far and wide. One can only hope that they didn’t overdo it with their full-length debut and still have many tricks up their sleeves. This music is potent, exotic stuff unlike almost anything else out there.