Vacation – Cat Iz feat Tray Charles (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Vacation is a celebration of the good times. It’s as simple as that. But rather than adopt the usual worn cliches – bottles of Cristal being drunk in dark hotel rooms, tables piled with cash, bags of weed and guns being waved around, this a much more life affirming view of the party attitude. It is full of sunshine vibes and positivity, it is about adventure and fun rather than the more sinister picture that many artists working in such genres like to paint. In short it feels honest, it feels real.

And musically it follows a similar vibe, mixing cutting edge, R&B-infused pop vibes, glitched out vocals and deft lyrical flows and well-crafted raps, pulsing, dance-fuelled bass lines and a general feeling of cutting loose and leaving your worries behind. At least for a while. Not only is it about following a party trail, up and down the West coast, over to Las Vegas, where ever the fun takes you, it is also the sound of the West coast, one which revels in the  high-life rather than the low. Straight Outta Compton may have brought hip-hop to a more mainstream audience but it is Cat Iz and his Straight Outta Carson crew which best exemplifies where that scene is at today.

Whilst you can hear plenty of traditional elements being fused here, all musicians build their music by standing on the shoulders of giants, to some extent, it is what he choses to cocoon those sounds in which is why Vacation helps to move the scene forward. Affected, glitchy vocals, soulful and tasteful underpinning piano, the funky rhythms set up by the depth-charge bass and the hand claps, sing-along choruses, there is a lot going on here. And the art of working with so many elements is allowing them to all have room to breath, and this is a song which is so deftly constructed that not only does every sonic thread play its part without tripping over each other, there is also room for spacious breakdowns and rising dynamics along the way.

And it is this use of space which allows the sunlight to get in. Make the music too dense, too dark and you end up with a claustrophobic and intense experience. Not here. Vacation is nothing if not addictive, easily accessible, a background groove and an in-your-face soundtrack to the good times.

If you are looking for anthem to enjoying the down-time, a song which celebrates the good times, relaxing and recuperating, to friends and memories, fun and unity, then this is the place to be. And after the year that everyone has had, who doesn’t need such a song right now. Perfect timing, sir!


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