K Sera - The Cantos: ii
Record Label: Burning House Records
Release Date: November 1, 2011
If any musical act endeavors to take a cinematic approach, there’s no better way to indulge in their creation than taking a listen in the same theatrical sense. K Sera, a little-band-that-could from Sacramento, California, have fully immersed themselves into that category, and their latest effort, The Cantos: ii has displayed this brilliantly. Moving forward completely from the pop-punk The Machinist EP, K Sera proves a strengthened attention to catchy song writing, while retaining and enhancing their signature theatricality established with the band’s last EP, The Cantos: i. So, prepare yourself for Act Two, as it were. K Sera’s been busy making sure you’re in for a treat.
The album opens brusquely with “Fall Asleep at the Wheel,” and immediately thunderous piano sets a captivating tone, followed by the presence of crunchy guitars and later Mike Caswell’s hushed voice that shifts flawlessly from thick, full vocals to smooth, captivating falsetto. The track flows masterfully with an upbeat rolling bass line, accompanied by scaling piano and the punchy backbone of Dustin’s kit. Not a single member of the group holds back on the track and album overall; better instrumentation, is always a plus, and this certainly is a welcomed addition. If you enjoyed “Young Forever” from The Cantos: i, this album could not have had a better opener, shining at this point, as one of the best songs in the band’s discography.
But the album doesn't let up there. Far from it, the best track on the album, in my opinion, makes the finest impression of exactly what K Sera is capable of. Every element that composes their sound is present, and then some. “This City Is Yours” delivers sweeping piano, popping guitar licks, crunchy bass, and the best damn chorus I’ve heard in a long time. Mike’s soaring vocals and graceful falsetto blend in the best way possible, harmonizing with a heavier melody than we’re used to hearing from the band. This trend resumes with “The Youth That I Spent,” which includes a few nifty electronic lines, reminiscent of early Muse synthesizers, that add structure and increased atmosphere to the track, climaxing as Mike yells the songs anthem, screaming “I’ve seen enough!” The song is sure to be a favorite at shows, transposing well for lively crowd, and a lovely reprieve that demands clapping, only to restart the energetic chorus.
This is not to say however, that The Cantos: ii is repetitive or assumes only a darker tone. Not by any means, as the other half of the EP proves otherwise. The band shows that their songwriting hasn’t let up or been confined, with the beautiful, modified “Little War.” While the song is not technically new, it provides a gentle listen and a fresh breath, immersing the listener into symphonic bliss, as gentle bells accompany tamed piano, and stunning orchestra permeate the song’s melody. This track shines in a different light, though it holds onto the charm K Sera is known for. “Ten Thousand Leagues” is in the same vein, musically, as “Little War”, though it strongly highlights the consistent lyrical theme of coping with anything and everything that may come your way; this track particularly delves into a story of love, mistakes, and regret, but ultimately optimism and perseverance. Hence, the song has a personal touch that many will definitely relate to.
The album closes with the short “Smile.” You will quickly find yourself obeying the title’s command, despite it's starting bleak lyrics. An eccentric outro of sorts, there is a definitely a very, very fun attitude that is flaunted in the song. It’s short and sweet. You can’t help but feel…well, happy (to oversimplify it) much like the final moments of a play that exceeded your expectations; the final moments when actors bow out to the sound of applause, as if to say, “Thank you for coming, I hope you enjoyed it.” And by the time you’ve reached the end of The Cantos: ii, you know you’ve done just that.