(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Single Review: San Fermin – Open

By on Friday, 13th January 2017 at 12:00 pm

Brooklyn-based chamber-pop collective San Fermin didn’t give themselves a lot of room for growth when they began their career with eight members back in 2012. Personal and professional space comes at a premium in a rock band so large and so diverse, and lineup changes are almost inevitable. San Fermin have seen their share of those, especially among their roster of female vocalists. However, the band’s latest single ‘Open’ shows both a slight change in musical direction and a renewed emphasis on the female voices in the group.

‘Open’ presents itself as atmospheric and ethereal, almost intangible, in contrast with the heavy clamour of earlier tracks like ‘Sonsick’. Here, a tapestry of soaring strings and high, lilting vocal melodies is gradually woven with threads of bass, percussion and guitar, creating a steady dynamic ascent. But lead singer Charlene Kaye, backed by a descant vocal from bandmate Rebekah Durham, sets a thematic tone of emotional descent into illicit longing with the song’s suggestive opening lines, “Finally, are you ready for me? Is she gone?”

The jarring sonic dissonance in the instrumental bridges between verses is perhaps a less-than-sublte reflection of the lyrical protagonist’s inner turmoil, but the overwhelming impression of the song is one of exquisite sensuality. Kaye’s delivery of the chorus line “give me your mouth, give me your skin” is both possessed and possessive; haunting in its desperation, but also alluringly seductive.

San Fermin’s longtime bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone describes the track as follows: “‘Open’ was the keystone of this new record – the song I kept coming back to that shaped the direction of everything else. It’s a call from that little nagging voice telling you that you might be a bad person, or at least want bad things.” If nothing else, the song will leave you wanting to hear more of San Fermin’s sharper, smoother new sound.



San Fermin’s new single ‘Open’ is taken from their forthcoming album ‘Belong’, which is due out later this year on Downtown Records / Interscope. The band is currently scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017; keep an eye on TGTF for our coverage from Austin later this year.  Our extensive previous coverage of San Fermin, dating back to their self-titled 2013 debut LP, is right back here.

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