The aptly named Sex People dispense a stunner of a debut EP with the release of the all new Cal-Island: Season 1, a five track walkthrough of their rambunctious electropop sound. Featuring original beats that echo against enormous synthesizers and dynamic string arrangements, songs like “Sanctuary City,” “No West Left” and “Mr. Emperor” challenge listeners to reassess what they’ve come to expect out of pop music, assaulting us furiously with decadently utilized rhythms that pummel away at us until resisting their swagger is next to impossible. Following up a year that left a lot of pop fans feeling less than pleased, 2019 gets off to a stellar start with the arrival of Sex People’s rookie extended play, which rocks as hard (if not harder) as anything their more-seasoned peers have come up with in recent memory.
Each of the songs on the EP – whether it be the effervescent “Like a Queen” or the more pendulous “The LA Air” – represents a different side of the magnificently diverse personality that Sex People have as a unit. We dive in with bubbly flamboyance in track one, slip into sumptuously dark realms of electronic R&B with “Sanctuary City,” get ambient and political in “The LA Air,” play with exotic, acrylic percussion in “No West Left” and find ourselves entranced in the churning “Mr. Emperor.” There’s no filler for us to tangle with in this track listing; only one jarring rout of the status quo executed under the even-keeled precision of a band that is adept beyond their years.
You can tell that the chemistry between the players here is completely organic and not forced in the slightest. They play off of each other’s cues brilliantly, and noticeably shape a really smooth tonality that is best observed in the glare of “Sanctuary City” and the bristling pace of “Like a Queen.” Some of these compositions espouse their narratives more through the texture of the music than they do the substance of their lyrics, which lends a certain postmodernity to the record that wouldn’t be present otherwise. Whether deliberately or not, Sex People have assembled one of the more intriguing EPs of the New Year – not only through their boldly crafted identity, but through the means that they approach their unique strain of pop.
Sex People deliver the goods with Cal-Island: Season 1, which at the moment appears to be the first breakout release in a season that is looking very promising for fans of intellectually stimulating pop/rock. Cal-Island: Season 1 is a record that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it truly is; a fun, easygoing electronic concept piece that doesn’t overthink its premise or inject its best moments with a lot of unnecessary fluff and camp. As its title suggests, this virgin installment in Sex People’s young discography is likely to be joined by other releases soon (with any luck, before the year is out), and based on the strength of what I’ve heard in these first five songs, I’m absolutely looking forward to hearing what they come up with next.