Verdict: 3 / 5
After the success of hits such as My Name and Fire Through the Window – both of which have enjoyed a lot of radio play – Pretoria-based band The December Streets have launched and released their debut album This is.
The opening track, Avvio, sets the mood immediately, a short instrumental introduction with a country feel to it and its inexorable rhythm sweeps you off your feet – a feeling that the rest of the album encapsulates. The songs are fast, light and catchy with positive, elevating lyrics that reveal a sensual soul. The fusion of genres and styles instantly defines and brands the band’s versatile blend of sounds. One of the standout tracks is Who Needs Shoes, which proposes that “everyone wants to be a cat” – whether intentional or not, it harks delightfully and unexpectedly to the alley cats’ jazzy theme in Disney’s Aristocats and has the same jiving, carefree spirit and romantically inviting lyrics. Even if the reference is completely by chance, the song is still a wonderful lyrical metaphor. The whole album, in fact, paints visions of summer days and romance, without ever drifting into poppy sentimentally.
The album keeps its upbeat tempo throughout, never relenting on its wild joy. This does however, keep the album on one level, but at least they toe the line brilliantly and infuse each track with its own unique flavour, mixing it up with saxophones and trombones. Their approach and delivery with This Is opens up opportunities and new explorations for another album, because it gives them something different to aim for. With their blend of styles and sounds, embedded with sincere emotional overtones, it would be interesting to hear what they produce were they to hit a more melancholic note. This shift would see the band grow and change in exactly the way great artists do, while challenging them to keep their unique brand of blended styles that defies categorisation.