Fine. I admit it.

I was far too busy having a good time at the Sapporo Safaris EP Launch to pay adequate attention to the very band that had me busting awkward dance moves (and simultaneously embarassing myself).

Thankfully however, I had the sense to get a hold of their debut EP, Figures of Eight.

First impression upon looking at the EP cover?  This is a band that you would want to take seriously without taking them too seriously. There is an undeniably playful nature about the Sapporo Safaris, and this translated into a light-hearted release with Figures of Eight. The EP barely skims the potential of the band however. The Sapporo Safaris are a band capable of so much more. 

Now the Sapporo Safaris are a pretty huge band with their eight members so I’m definitely not referring to this in a physical, numerical sense. However, it’s no secret that the band hopes to achieve a ‘big sound’ with their music. There is some semblance of that ‘big sound’ in this release but for the most part, the grandiose I expected to hear was limited or rather, muted.

The EP opens with the enigmatic ‘Island in You’. The track had a very interesting build-up, but the subsequent climax did not quite have the sonic impact it should have had. The various instrument lines contributing to said climax seemed to be in a confusing mess, significantly affecting what would have been a dramatic and fitting finish to an otherwise very fitting start to their album. ‘Island in You’ however is indicative of the band’s raw potential when it comes to arranging their music.

The music is taken up a notch with ‘Electric Handshakes’ – an energetic number clearly designed to induce one to dance. The only track on the release that demanded outright dancing from the start, the track features inescapable and unnervingly catchy ‘Ooohs’. The trumpets in ‘Electric Handshakes’ also served to add considerable warmth as well as meld the various elements of the track together.

It might be easy to draw parallels between ‘Island in You’ and ‘Ancient Becoming’ at first – especially with the latter track’s dreamy start and animated finish. Additionally, the track had all the ingredients to create an all-out indie fiesta. However, at its very core, ‘Ancient Becoming’ lacked a definitive pulse that would have perhaps carried the intent of the track a little more successfully. Personally, I found it easier to gloss over the pitfalls of ‘Ancient Becoming’ – and the track is pretty much a personal favourite.

Figures of Eight ends off with the heartfelt ‘Oxygen Man I’. The track had an excellent start. Though relatively bare and simple, the beginning of the track has a spellbinding effect and it is easy to get unconsciously wrapped in its warm embrace. Whilst the vocal harmonies take some time to settle in, they also serve to uphold the sincerity of the track . As the music approached its rather expected climax however, rather harsh-sounding trumpets drowned out other supporting melodies and came across as a little too zealous for the tune. Despite this, the track once again highlighted the young band’s impressive music arrangement abilities. There’s no doubt that with some fine-tuning, this band could be well on their way to producing the lush, grandiose (and infectious) sounds they’ve set out to produce.

As a whole, Figures of Eight is an ambitious effort from a band that first saw its humble beginnings in the later half of last year. Admittedly, the EP was not a cup of tea I enjoyed on the first sip. It took some time for the unique blend the Sapporo Safaris had concocted to settle in. Knowing how eager and earnest the Sapporo Safaris are however, the band is likely starting work on their next release. I’m rather hopeful that the following release will be a better showcase of the band’s abilities.

Take a listen to the Figures of Eight EP below:

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Track List:

01. An Island in You
02. Electric Handshakes
03. Ancient Becoming
04. Oxygen Man I

The Figures of Eight EP is available from the Sapporo Safari’s bandcamp page here. Special thanks to the Sapporo Safaris for making this review possible.