Album review: Cayucas’ ‘Bigfoot’

Many artists of the past several years have attempted to cash in on the resurgence of mid-century beach vibes. At this point, the genre is more than a bit bloated and overdone. It seems that most musicians jumping on this bandwagon throw together the obvious ingredients—summer-themed lyrics, Beach Boys influenced vocals, breezy instrumentation, and all the right salty keywords (how many bands actually have the word “beach” in their name at this point? On the nose much?). Cayucas, formerly Oregon Bike Trails, manage to keep that summer notion fresh without leaning too hard into the rubric.

Of course, most of the genre staples are present on Bigfoot, but Cayucas use these tools to paint a beautifully specific landscape within the wide scope of surf-curled BBQ jams, rather than just making large, recognizable strokes. Bigfoot reminds the listener of the lazy, dragging afternoons of summer—where the torrent of sun-baked afternoon parties and Mai Tai twists have slowed, leaving one more contemplative than carefree.

Songs like “Will The Thrill” and “Deep Sea” are slow burners that seem to exist in an inner-tube gliding down a calm and shady river. Cayucas is derived from Cayucos, a coastal town in San Luis Obispo County, California, once inhabited by the Chumash Indians. Locals claim the name is either Chumash or Eskimo-influenced Spanish for “canoe”—how fitting.

The polyrhythms and African tinge are reminiscent of Vampire Weekend’s first album but the similarities exist only in broad stokes. Cayucas have a summer flavor all their own. If their genre brethren are trying to get you to chug beers and turn a mother out at the next midday rager then Cayucas are trying to make you relish the come-down, to be pleased with the exhaustion of the sun. Bigfoot isn’t a grand statement of identity or any coastal ideology. It’s a cherished, fleeting secret being told on a blanket, next to the dying embers of a bonfire, after most of the party has gone home.

If anything, the album suffers from poor arrangement. Bigfoot opens with its strongest offering, “Cayucos,” and the rest of the album fiddles with its tank-top hem in its shadow. The song doesn’t scratch at anything too remarkable lyrically, but it’s a ridiculously affective mover wringing out the last drop of dance in you come dusk. It’s a windows-down PCH cruiser, again, as the sun prepares to dip down. It’s dusky. It’s a dusky jam. When Zach Yudin casually erupts “I think I’m falling in love!,” it’s enough to make you feel the positivity of an intense but disappearing, possibly meaningless, summer romance—with a longing for the substantivity of the soon approaching fall.