'Cormorant I & II': San Fermin weaves an evocative tale of two people on the treacherous path of self-discovery
Indie-rock collective San Fermin have released their latest album, 'Cormorant II', the follow-up to 2019's 'Cormorant I'. Together, this completes the 16-track release, titled 'Cormorant I & II'.
Helmed by visionary songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ellis Ludwig-Leone, San Fermin has already developed a following worldwide due to their interesting approach to music. The blend of pop and avant-garde isn't new on its own, but there is an element of dreamy optimism coupled with a melancholic gloom that takes San Fermin's sound from commercial indie music to something uniquely evocative. The fact that San Fermin is also not afraid to paint outside the lines when it comes to their sound simply adds to the depth in their work.
'Cormorant I & II' is a wonderfully woven tale of two souls intertwined on a journey through the highs and lows of existence. It opens with the eponymous track that sets up the album by taking its listeners back to the warmth of a happy childhood, the memory carried through with beautifully lilting melody. Even though it's only the first track, it already manages to transport you into a safe space filled with joy and innocence. But as the songs alternate between the lead characters, it becomes clear they are two individuals on very different journeys.
'Cerulean Gardens' sees the lead male character wonder if he's 'doing it right' and looking to his father up in the blue skies for guidance, beautifully tapping into the insecurities we all live with as we face down marriage and parenthood and everything that comes along with it. On the songs detailing his journey, he wonders what he has done wrong and muses about the simplicity of teenage love and youth. It becomes apparent this character is deeply emotional and requires 'tending to', but for some reason, he can't seem to find what he needs.
The female lead's struggle appears to stem from an inability to move on from her past while being in a relationship she sees as a disappointment despite her partner doing nothing wrong. On songs like 'The Myth' and 'Little Star' we also hear her grapple with the hopes and dreams she once had for herself, dejectedly wondering "where [her] kingdom went." On 'Swamp Song', we hear her accept who her partner is while also warning him to not meet a cormorant.
The use of cormorants is interesting in this album since the birds can symbolize anything from wit and adaptability to being so wrapped up in one's own emotions that one inadvertently drowns in them. Encountering a cormorant is sometimes thought to mean it is time to let go and take flight, but it can also be a cautionary tale to not lose yourself in your own thoughts and emotions. Building the themes of internal struggle and a relationship around this seems wonderfully apt.
As it progresses, 'Cormorant I & II' recreates the feelings of what it is like to go through life and deal with the ups and downs along the way. From the innocence of new love to the fears that plague a relationship along the way, and from a chasm that keeps this couple apart to them realizing they only "get one chance," we see this couple decide to let go of the fantasy and simply grow old together.
And so, the final act of this story takes us from grappling with ourselves to acceptance of what is. The journey that started out with innocence and traveled through pain and struggle gently moves towards reminiscing on a life well-lived. 'Cormorant I & II' beautifully creates space through shorter tracks that allow you to really process the story along the way while also allowing it to seamlessly transition from one segment of the journey to next, so it is fitting that it ends with the angelic humming and gentle whispering on 'Tunnel Mt.' It feels like the bittersweet end to an all-too-recognizable story of a couple who go through a relatable journey that culminates in a peaceful end.