A four-piece band from San Francisco, Cindy is a vehicle for the songwriting of Karina Gill. Karina has spoken of spending her life sat on the musical sidelines, watching as ex-partners and friends, “made their stabs at it”. A chance encounter with a Squire Strat in a basement, “mummified in electrical tape”, became a catalyst for experimentation and led to the self-release of the debut Cindy album. That record was followed in the Summer of 2020 by the band’s second record, Free Advice, which went from a limited edition cassette on the local Paisley Shirt label, to vinyl pressings on both sides of the Atlantic, including a UK release via Tough Love Records. Wasting no time, the band are set to return with their third album, 1:2, this October, and today they’re premiering the latest track from it, Party Store.
Discussing the inspiration behind Party Store, Karina has suggested it is a song, “about repetition – generation to generation and within a life”. The song seems to exist in the corner store, places that sometimes feel like time has forgotten to move on, amid, “lucky charms” and “ancient advertisements”. The title comes not from a fancy dress or Balloon Animal emporium, but from the Midwestern American word for a corner shop, “party store”, in their eyes a much better name for a song than Corner Store or Bodega, and one which, “we figured we could get away with it as Aaron (Diko – keyboardist) is from Indiana”.
It’s not just the title that Aaron Diko provides to the track, as the meandering Casio-like keyboard line is a delight throughout, bring a certain Jeffrey Lewis-like lo-fi antifolk feel to proceedings. The keyboard is a perfect foil to Karin’s vocals, a sort of sing-speak delivery, bringing to mind the bedroom-pop perfection of Oh Peas or early Frankie Cosmos. Despite the warm musicality on show, the lyrics seem to hint at a certain melancholic indifference, “sometimes I say are you feeling small, you plan all day for your funeral”. In a way the song seems to hint about the ease in avoiding difficult situations, contrasting the interactions with a check-out clerk, “it’s late at night and I’m not going to ask about the tiny affairs behind the plexiglass”, with an interaction with someone much closer to home, “it’s late at night, but you want me to ask about your mothers love and your sordid past”.
If the song reaches any conclusion, it’s that obsessing over the past, be it your own or someone else’s, isn’t going to help, “I’m not a fool who wants to turn back time, erase that jagged line, there was no time before you, there was just you the time before”. The music of Cindy sounds on first listen so serene and charming, it would be easy to miss the depth lurking within. Cindy’s music is the uneasy calm in the eye of the storm, the comforting arm around your shoulders as you face up to the apocalypse, undeniably charming and equally unsettling sure: you won’t be able to tear your ears away.