One of the most anticipated Australian debut albums of the year has just been dropped by local breakthrough outfit Winston Surfshirt. The quintet have had a year to remember; releasing three huge singles (“Be About You”, “Ali D” and “Same Same”), selling out a national tour, including a stop at Australia’s favourite music festival ‘Splendour in the Grass’, and nailing a cover of 50 Cent‘s “21 Questions’” for triple j’s ‘Like A Version’, to name a few highlights.
‘Sponge Cake’ oozes into the new age of music, whilst drawing on various beats and rhythms from the US’s west coast hip-hop scene. Lead singer Brett Rawson’s intrinsic, mellow vocals find a close companion in the super-likeable trombone that continually reappears to complement each track. Seamlessly weaving between tracks with a unique and euphoric flow, their tunes perfectly come together to create an atmosphere of good-vibes. And it’s that atmosphere that has really resonated with listeners and is quickly becoming synonymous with the Sydney five-piece.
The obvious standout from ‘Sponge Cake’ is the band’s debut single, “Be About You”, which was released in early 2017, and for most of us, was our first real taste of Winston Surfshirt. Aside from “Be About You”, ‘Sponge Cake’ is rich with class tracks, bursting with the taste of summer. “Ease Bruisily” and “Nowhere” do exactly this, taking us back to the classic California-style beats of ’90s west coast hip-hop, and completely revamping them into two absolutely satisfying arrangements of soul and rap. In contrast to these two bangers “Same Same” and “Ali D” move towards a silky collide of retro electronica with Winston’s classic, hazy flow standing front and centre.
Another essential ingredient in ‘Sponge Cake’ is the hypnotic lyrics that bring the songs to life. The seemingly effortless verses slide along to the band’s flow with ease before ascending into a catchy, and unique falsetto chorus. Winston’s skill at melting these elements together is what makes each track work so well. When lines like, “I see the way you’re dawdling and it’s like an inkling, it’s the kind of thing that makes you sort of think” or “Til about a quarter of my life has almost passed, even shorter if you mightn’t be making it last”, make a breezy transition onto the next, it’s easy to appreciate the effort and talent that the guys have put into this album.
‘Sponge Cake’, as a whole, is a complete and epic first instalment, that pushes the limits from track 1 to 16, and redefines the classic genres that we’ve come to know and love, with a fresh new style. ‘Sponge Cake’ will also come as a breath of fresh air for music lovers who are hungry for locally produced hip-hop/soul. With each track cascading into the next with infectious lyrics and sweet-sounding hooks, it’s incredibly hard to not become an instant fan of Winston Surfshirt, and their debut album ‘Sponge Cake’.
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