On the cover of Between You and Me, the members of San Cisco pose theatrically, their gazes pointed skyward toward an all-seeing camera. Their presentation is glamorous, but there’s a touch of self-aware humor to it: Josh Biondillo resembles a greaser, Scarlett Stevens adopts the over-the-top guise of a Hollywood star, and Jordi Davieson sports a shirt adorned with palm tree decals. The photo reveals everything you need to know about the album: while it’s undoubtedly San Cisco’s most refined release to date, the band’s fondness for fun and games hasn’t gone anywhere.
Between You and Me’s smoother, more sophisticated style is a notable shift, given that San Cisco have made a name for themselves as the scrappy “indie cool kids” of Australia. When they stepped onto the scene with “Awkward,” an instant hit that could be heard in countless junior’s clothing stores back in 2011, they were still bright-eyed teenagers—and it showed in the song’s music video, which prominently featured emojis and iMessage bubbles. They continued to cultivate a youthful image on Gracetown with songs like “Too Much Time Together,” which chronicled the vicissitudes of early relationships with lyrics like “People say that we don’t need to rush/I don’t care, you’re my first crush,” and “Skool,” which featured Davieson reminiscing, “You were my Geography girl.” On The Water, they began to transition into a more mature outlook, with songs about drug addiction (“Waiting for the Weekend”) and looking back on teenage romance in one’s twenties (“Hey, Did I Do You Wrong?”). Between You and Me sees them wading even deeper into the reflecting pool of adulthood. On “Skin,” they move beyond puppy love to talk about a breakup with someone who seemed like “The One.” On “Reasons,” which Davieson told Nettwerk was about “[healing] the fractures in our relationships through communication and trust,” he assures a partner that he’ll stand by her through all her emotions. Thoughtful explorations of imperfect relationship dynamics are plentiful here. So are sweeping ballads that strike the perfect balance between Fleetwood Mac and Mac DeMarco.
With that said, the band’s core ethos has remained intact. Listening to San Cisco is still like going to a party—it’s just a little less sweating on the dancefloor and eavesdropping on conversations by the punchbowl, and a little more overlooking the crowd from the balcony while sipping champagne. There are fewer “na na na”s and giddy declarations of love on this record, but it brings the requisite sighs and thrills all the same. “On the Line” is an indie anthem with all the guitar-fueled gusto of Tourist History-era Two Door Cinema Club. “Message” is “Awkward”’s spiritual successor—a lighthearted track about the miscommunication abetted by technology, with a goofy music video and a practiced pettiness that’s only half ironic. “Tell Me When You Leave Tonight” is a musical love letter that feels like standing outside on a crisp, starry evening. Between You and Me might weave together various stories of heartbreak, but it wants you to have a darn good time listening to those stories.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s the chemistry that the bandmates share. Davieson and Stevens have known each other since they were toddlers; they met Biondillo in high school. Their ease with each other has been evident since the “Awkward” days, and it’s even more palpable now (if that’s possible). They gracefully step into the roles of arguing lovers on “On the Line.” Their harmonies swell and swirl with unmatched elegance on Beach Boys-esque “Gone” and the grand finale of a title track. This is the sound of a band that has been playing together for years; this is the sound of a band that, one can only imagine, will be playing together for years to come.
Charming, coy, and cohesive, Between You and Me perfects the San Cisco template—just like every San Cisco album before it. Listen to it now so you can feel nostalgic for it in five years.