There is a place where the sounds and sights of summer are always abounding and where you can sing about the beach all year long. That place, according to Zach Yudin, is Cayucos, California. His project Cayucas (formerly called Oregon Bike Trails) is an unapologetic love letter to the feeling given to those who have the rare blessing to live near this magical place. This feeling of endless summer is what the Beach Boys gave us decades ago – the feeling that can warm your heart no matter how much you shiver when you go outside. And for that reason, beach tunes should never go away. Sure, they may not be deepest, most profound gaze into the abyss of the human soul, but with Cayucas debut LP Bigfoot, Yudin gives us the soundtrack to a summer of abandon, where there is nothing dark and life moves just a bit slower. Pulling hints from Pet Sounds and other great offerings of 60’s surf pop along the way, Bigfoot is an easy record that you could listen to again and again until the sun finally sets on the beach.
Bigfoot’s eight offerings are stories from summers past, where the sunburns lasted for weeks and the memories even longer. Yudin’s two openers, “Cayucos” and “High School Lover” are both pitch perfect pop tunes documenting sunny adventures. The first is a perfect day in the warm weather, surfing and dancing around campfires and driving around in between events. It doesn’t really aspire to be anything more complicated than it is, but this perfect hook line and sinker of a track could serve as the city’s theme song for years to come. “High School Lover” could be a story told around the campfire that night about a crush that could have turned into more. Nothing more than it needs to be, Yudin croons away with a smile on his face retelling this charming tale of youth and love. After all, those are the stories you tell among friends on the beach – the ones with laughs on all sides. Capturing the existential symbolism of the season, Yudin perfectly captures the spirit of a time with no regrets and nothing wrong. Among the waves and the laid back guitar riffs, there is an air of peace.
On the second half of the record, Yudin begins to explore some more complicated song-work, building his crescendos higher and his arrangements thicker. In a lot of ways, it’s like reaching the middle of a perfect day, where the wonder has receded a bit so that appreciation can settle in. “East Coast Girl” brags to visitors about the wonder and delight of the great state of California, while realizing that time is fleeting, and “Ayawa’kya” is a delightfully cheerful exercise in goofy Vampire Weekend-esque detail. But the two treasures of the record are “Deep Sea” and the title track, by far. From its spacious noisy introduction the very last note, you can hear the Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds all over this song. The mixture of sound and landscape is absolutely gorgeous, mixing a quiet whistle, an arrangement of flutes, and bells and chimes abounding. Lyrically, “Deep Sea” is the best tune on the record, taking a quiet break in a summer’s day to explore a small bit of life’s hardships and, as a result, falling in love just a bit. It’s here that Yudin explores a difficult idea: summer isn’t forever. There’s a season for everything, and on “Deep Sea”, there’s a bit of foreshadowing at summer’s end. But the record doesn’t end on a melancholy note. “Bigfoot” is a heavy stomping ballad inspired by California’s favorite nonhuman fugitive. But “Bigfoot” never quite reaches an unbearable level of silliness. Rather, it explores loneliness amidst wonder and beauty. The tune is a total delight and the perfect closer.
Zach Yudin has made a near perfect entrance onto the scene as Cayucas with Bigfoot. It will be interesting to see how he follows the record up, but for now, we can just sit back on sunny days and enjoy his youthful narrative of a perfect summer’s day. Bigfoot is out 4/30 on Secretly Canadian on CD and vinyl (pre-order the deluxe bundle and get a beach ball!). If you want further listening, Bigfoot is streaming through Stereogum for a few more days. Catch Cayucas at Barboza on June 19. Tickets are available now.