Rating – 4/5
The debut EP from Salvador Monday, Carousel Cacti, landed in February 2021 and after a heads up on Instagram we thought we should take a look. The duo, Alex and Chris, hail from Hull and the band name is inspired by the world’s most expensive painting, the Salvator Mundi painted by Leonardi Da Vinci. The sound of the group isn’t quite as rarified as a painting worth over 450 million, thankfully, but it’s no less intriguing.
The EP comprises six songs including the debut single from 2020, Trouble in Paradise, but we begin with “Hide and Seek aka Humberside”. It begins with a relaxed Sunday afternoon tone, synthy guitars and a peaceful hark back to a californian beach sound. The vocals follow the same vibe and echo the harmonic almost acapella Beach Boys vibe. The track progresses with the echoes of the strings and the vocals bouncing off each other in almost discordant synchronicity. It creates a soundscape that you almost feel submerged in rather than just listening to. It encapsulates the track and gives us a tiny window into the
latent creativity of the pair.
“On Vacant Street” follows. The vocal minus it’s ethereal echo chamber vibe sounds a bit more Elvis Costello crossed
with early Kings of Leon. The rhythm keeps the track rolling and carries it out of the trippy lyrics into a bluesy solo that takes it to its conclusion. “A Squeeze of Lemon” brings even more of the Black Keys/Kings of Leon vibe to the fore musically. Vocally there’s definitely a feel it’s been thrust more centre stage. Not just in terms of volume but also a slighter push to more of a testing range. There is a great to and fro with the vocals and the guitar dipping in and out of centre stage. “Just another squeeze if you please” is open to interpretation though that may narrow somewhat when paired with “I really need it this time”. Indeed.
The track matures as it progresses and has a lovely harmonious exit which leaves you feeling like a nice day out and a happy episode in the EP. “Hold Your High Horses” is not only a great turn of phrase it’s also track 4. It begins with a slightly trippy intro which fades away into a mellow and chilled acoustic vibe. It blends into the same sort of chillout vibe that pervades the EP, thus far at least, and has a satiated, fulfilled energy. The vocal exists in partnership with the sound of the paired back guitar, lengthening out the lyrics into almost another melody line. The soulful electric solo overrides the acoustic melody and yet maintains it’s super relaxed vibe, if basically kicking it up into another stream of consciousness.
“Trouble In Paradise” is our penultimate track. It definitely carries the same identity as the rest of the EP. The trippy floating vocals marry with the trippy floating melody line. There is more of a bluesy kick to this one that is very welcome. The almost background guitar has a blues pedigree to it and almost coaxes the smoulder out of the vocal as it helps pervade the track. There’s just enough force in the delivery to lift this track into an elevated level of emotion and almost anxiety. The tension that has been banished from the other tracks has taken refuge here. There is a clear and distinct absence of the chilled out vibes from the rest of the EP and it’s not an unpleasant diversion.Almost a return to a grounded reality after a nice break away.
Lastly, we end our journey with “Kamikaze Seagulls”. Anyone who has been to the seaside in England will know all too well that this is more than just a cool sounding appellation. It’s life or death for your chips. This track opens with an almost Mark Knopfler riff that has been mellowed out. Rather than amping up into the main verse a la Dire Straits, it’s main focus seems to be driving you down the road to the beach instead. This track has much more of the guitar to it. Rather than underpinning or swapping in and
out with the vocal it seems to have it’s own power to it, it’s own real place. Terrifyingly the Kamikaze Seagulls, according to the lyrics, are on a Ferris Wheel. How? No one knows, and luckily there seems to be no casualties.
As a whole this EP has a distinct flavour and personality. It’s very as if the Beach Boys have been updated and transplanted to the English seaside. It works far better than that sounds. There are some interesting ideas, some great building of lyrical forms and soundscapes and a vibe that is well worth exploring.
As a first outing this shows boat loads of promise and if this is a day out at the seaside there’s more than a couple of ice creams and sticks of rock to brighten up the outing. The benefit of this musical excursion is no one draws the short straw of the drive home, and no one has the minty vomit of too much rock. Available on all good streaming services now.
Review by Jim Clinch