The chance only comes a few times a year when I can get out to one of the greater cities in America - San Francisco. Usually, it's only a few days and it's always a working trip, so time is limited, but when you're there, you gasp often. You get down to the wharf in the mornings or early evenings and you're in awe. You get out on foot, running through the wooded areas along the coast, and up through the dirt paths that pop you out into the neighborhood of some of the Zodiac killer's ghastly acts, out and up through the Presidio area and you're quickly in love, if horribly out of breath and feeling the nasty pangs of lactic acid buildup in your legs. You could go on and on, really, citing bits and pieces of the cityscape that can't be found elsewhere. It's a city that you keep coming back to, physically and mentally - the drizzle, the fogginess, the thought of what it must have been like to attempt to escape from Alcatraz island, the water and the general feeling that you can't go any further west, that it does feel like the last resort. While Alex Cowan and Raphaelle Strandell-Preston of Blue Hawaii, call a city like Montreal, Canada - which strangely shares some characteristics with the Bay Area - home, there's something about the slightly warmer, at the very least, Californian vibe of San Francisco that makes it easy to feel as if they are misplaced. It might be better to consider them misplaced, however, as the longing that exists in the duo's hazy electro gives us the strongest pull and if we imagine that we're listening, but wishing to be somewhere very different, it feels very appropriate. Strandell-Preston sings about "finding someone in a castle of clouds," on the song "Castle of Clouds," but what it seems like we can hear in that song and in "Cect" (a song that we somehow coaxed more of the clouds out of, even though they were thick and present on their own) is someone wishing for the elsewhere, wishing for some place that they cannot reach. It feels sweet and natural, as if we're all stuck between a rock and a hard place most of the time, never able to be where we really want to be. We are left massaging that void the best that we can, looking off and into the static of distance, seeing a distorted vision of what lies on the other side of the horizon. We aren't bothered by this, but intrigued by it, wishing by starlight for a change that might never be made. Strandell-Preston's outbursts even feel cushioned, foamy, as her voice soars to different heights. She's just trying to angle the shots fired, trying to catapult some part of herself to that place she can't be.
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