Brit expatriate music maker Christopher Hicken, aka Cantinero, has declared that he hates heavy-handed music and has a sweet tooth for melody, so it’s no shocker that his sophomore recording smacks of carefully crafted pop tunes that cling tenaciously to your brain like a barnacle. Shamelessly accessible, this Manhattan-to-Catskill transplant spews catchy tunes and perceptive lyrics reminiscent of Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, Joe Jackson, and the Beatles. His soulful, sometimes harmonizing vocals even sound a bit like Sir Macca.
He wastes no time introducing his knack for melody and hooks on track one, “My House,” an infectious drums/bass/guitar-driven anthem of narrow-minded superiority that will thwack all mainlining alt-pop junkies in the face. Through the slinking vibes and finger snapping of “Go Getter,” he presents social commentary on America’s attitude toward entitlement, while “Goodbye Life,” a duet between Hicken and Jennifer Glass, boasts a Spanish-flavored, cabaret-esque strut. The sky starts to darken with the acoustic guitar-based “Selfish” (based on a journal entry by Charles Darwin), which despairingly melds into “Sometimes,” a pensive, self-deprecating ode awash with melancholy cello, guitar, and keys. No worries though, the thunderclouds soon pass and he snaps back into ditty-mode right quick. Hicken is riding high on Amazon Top 40, NPR, and MTV, and he damn well deserves it. www.cantinero.com.