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Track Review

Sometimes overnight success is years in the making.

Take the case of the Los Angeles-based synth-pop duo Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian—better known as Capital Cities. After meeting in early 2011 via Craigslist, the pair quickly cranked out an EP on the indie label Lazy Hooks. It featured the song "Safe and Sound," and propelled by New Wave-y '80s synth sounds paired with state of the art, 21st-century EDM beats, the tune became something of a viral sensation. And that helped Capital Cities net a recording contract with, naturally, Capitol Records.

Two-and-a-half years later, the band has released its debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery . On the record is a certain song titled "Safe and Sound"—so mainstream music fans are finally discovering the track that paved the way for the group back in 2011.

Lyrically, it's as buoyantly upbeat as the catchy beats backing the words. In brief, the duo sings about a relationship that is so strong and good that nothing can shake it. "I could lift you up," Merchant and Simonian begin in harmony, "I could show you what you wanna see/And take you where you wanna be/You could be my luck/Even if the sky is falling down/I know that we'll be safe and sound/We're safe and sound."

As the verses progress, other ominous outcomes are pondered—including death—none of which can shake the security of cement-like faithfulness: "Even in a hurricane of frowns/I know that we'll be safe and sound/ … You could be my luck/Even if we're six feet underground/I know that we'll be safe and sound."

One more poignant thought reinforces the song's focus on the beauty of a couple's bond: "I could show you love/In a tidal wave of mystery/You'll still be standing next to me." Start to finish, then, "Safe and Sound" delivers exactly what the song's title promises: a refreshingly optimistic vision of love that's never marred by innuendo or sensuality.

Alas, a smidgen of that sensuality creeps into the accompanying video as the band emcees something of a multigenerational dance-off. Competitors from as far back as 1913 strut their stuff in a variety of styles, including everyone from flappers to disco kings, along with practitioners of tap, swing, breakdancing and modern dance. That opens the door to a few of the female dancers' costumes displaying midriff, leg and cleavage. And the duo makes an intentionally absurd appearance wearing showgirl costumes.

Those briefly revealing moments aren't the video's primary focus, I should note. Instead, it's obsessed with celebrating all those dance styles that have come and gone over the last hundred years, a concept that sidesteps the lyrical message yet embraces and expresses the song's enthusiastic spirit.

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Episode Reviews

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