Andrew Sisk’s Antarcticalia should not be confused with its predecessor, Arcticalia—as easy a slip as that turns out to be. Spicier from the start, Sisk’s back with a band following his 2015 success, but shedding much of the melancholic apathy/action conflict that set him off less than a year ago.
The creative Sisk, who fills his life outside of his 9-to-5 with a number of outlets, is still relatively new to his solo career even if he’s spent a decade performing with bands Share and Coco & Co. All those connections pay off in his latest as he pulls in a well-experienced team—and producer Michael Feuerstack once again—to round out the band’s zigging, zagging and electronically whirling sound.
It’s surprising fun on the six tracks as Sisk travels south on this EP, and the songs veer closer to giddy dancing numbers than their northern predecessors. It’s not until over halfway through that Sisk settles back into that slow-paced introspection that filled Arcticalia. Even then, “Bad Landlord” picks up and transforms into the kind of rocking number that lets you ease back and feel the music as you settle in for a night out.
The whole album is a flashier outing as “Standing For It” accents each note with a shooting cascade of sound and “Fragmented Me” leans heavily on the keys. According to Sisk, Antarcticalia is “the second half to a thought process. Resolving to focus on the good things, let hope rise, and embrace what is,” and this new view shows in the playfulness of the notes and the laid back, relaxed outlook that radiates throughout the lyrics.
It’s hard not to read opener “Don’t Wake Me Up Again” as a plea to give Sisk this chance to enjoy his happy reverie a bit longer—and as the drums pick up and the melody speeds along into a dreamy close, there’s a definite lure into the dream that has so captivated him. It’s an irresistible fun, and Sisk knows it, as he works through “Bad News” to find the rhythm and meaning in “Fragmented Me.”
Having delved deep into what he can and cannot know for Arcticalia, it’s a relaxing turn on this set of songs as Sisk eases up a bit and tries to find the small joys—and sounds—that bring light to another polar extreme. And while the shadows still lurk at the edges, it’s a brief and welcome escape that feels justly earned.
Top Track: “Fragmented Me”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)