Melbourne’s own Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung are proving to be quite the dynamic duo on their second collaborative effort, Café Romantica, out through Chapter Music. Fox and Key Sung, who are also fostering fruitful solo careers, first teamed up on 2013’s Embassy Café. Café Romantica however is their first album under the moniker of Andras & Oscar, which tells us that their young relationship is getting more serious — and we couldn’t be happier about that.
Once again, Café Romantica presents a symbiotic fusion of Fox’s light, new age house production with Key Sung’s emotionally charged, soulful vocals. The album is smooth, chilled and pulsating, seamlessly evoking the melancholia that accompanies intense desire and heartache. Its chilled-out lounge vibes conjure up scenes of glamorous LA parties, steamy summer nights and fruity alcoholic drinks. Meanwhile, the lyrics portray emotions heightened by alcohol and illicit substances, and the romance that develops under dimmed lights and in shadowy corners. It’s a party album that demands either interaction or introspection, with full-blown dancing replaced by slow grooving.
As its name implies, Café Romantica exhibits the full spectrum of romantic interaction. From the initial lustful glances and beginnings of romance, to the anguish towards a lover who is taking advantage, and pleading to a paramour for reconciliation and a fresh start. The album is like a romance playbook, delivered by way of hypnotic house music. ‘Friendship Theme’ is a sultry, low-key opening track that sets the passionate tone of the record. Key Sung repeats ‘We can talk it over’ to his girl, breathing ‘I love the sound of your voice’ over feathery light cymbals. The mood is noticeably altered however in ‘Every Time I Go’, a dance-y track of the frustrated variety with sharp drumbeats and tapping synths.
The album’s lead single ‘Looking Back’ is a highlight, with its strong lead vocals, rich, layered melodies and energetic beat. Key Sung gazes into the camera with puppy dog eyes, singing ‘I’m feeling tipsy but my bottle’s still full / I got to be careful when I’m looking at you / I feel like I would OD if I look for too long / I wanna dance with you ’. And while they sound like some of the corniest pickup lines ever, they perfectly capture the foolhardy, drunken excitement of glimpsing someone you’re crushing on. Surprisingly, both instrumental songs on the album, ‘Take Our Time’ and ‘Tutorials’, are refreshing, hypnotic tracks that hold their own amongst the rest. ‘Take Our Time’ with its tropical flavour, sweet melodies, light drums and cymbals, and the sophisticated, piano-infused ‘Tutorials’ with its pure club sound.
Romantica is also surprising in a lot of ways. Amidst the ambient house rhythms can be found subtle hints of bongos, cowbell, keyboard, and flute, as well as touches of experimental melodies on tracks such as ‘French Twist’ and ‘Rules of Love’. That said, nothing is ever over the top; nothing sounds too harsh. Andras & Oscar do an expert job of making the album totally listenable and dare I say it: eargasmic. On top of that the guys somehow manage to make emotionally driven, soulful house music sound casually cool and very ‘Melbourne’ (if that even is a valid adjective). It won’t be too long before Café Romantica becomes the soundtrack to everyone’s Saturday night.
Café Romantica was released on October 17th via Chapter Music.