‘Café Romantica’ was the perfect name for Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung’s debut collaborative album. Neither are strangers to working in teams, with Oscar Key Sung’s fantastic work as Oscar + Martin, and Andras Fox’s butt-wiggling ride of Fox + Sui. Both artists have had extensive and profitable solo careers, with Andras Fox laying down multiple records that have garnered him instant fame and jealousy, and Oscar Key Sung dropping an EP earlier this year that sent the Internet alight. But when the two combine, and lose the classic collaboration ‘+’ symbol for the more sophisticated ‘&’, Andras & Oscar turn into a project with serious groove potential. Listening to this album makes you want to dance the night away with your best mates, and maybe even find that love interest that your fortune cookie assured you was going to happen.
But back to why ‘Café Romantica’ is the perfect name for Andras & Oscar’s introduction to the world. The name encapsulates the laid-back and easy-going nature of the record. It’s not trying to break any world records, or start any arguments. It’s small-time feel good stuff for the culture guide. Oscar Key Sung’s vocals causing flames of infidelity to lick the insides of your partner is about as controversial as this album gets. Still, there’s something about the mixture of these musicians that pricks the ears, something to do with their subtly different styles. Andras Fox is eye-catchingly cultured and European, whilst Key Sung makes for more of a doe-eyed dreamboat, a young Johnny Depp to Fox’s Marion Cotillard.
But they work together exceptionally well, a chemistry blossoming the likes the musical world haven’t seen since Metallica and Lou Reed thrust themselves upon each other. For a less jokey reference, think of collaborations like Divine Fits, or Black Vanilla, where the sum of parts creates something that increases the talents of both parties. Something new is formed, something gloriously simple, and it becomes insane to think that this album wasn’t released earlier.
On “French Twist”, a beckoning finger extends through the funkiest bass lines this side of Parliament Funkadelic, but they waft along with these sappy synth works, and Key Sung’s alluring vocals. And the lightly twirling refrain of “We can talk it over” is battered down with some expert lounge sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in an opium den. The standout of “Everytime I Go” are thrusting in their bravado, but they’re bolted down with gently swaying ticks and tocks, clicks snaking along to tapping neon synths. Heartbreak sidles along with comfort in an intimate environment.
It really should be noted that whilst Oscar Key Sung provides the brilliant vocals, Andras Fox’s production cannot be understated. On standout “Looking Back”, when OKS looks on in a forlorn croon, the twinkling electronica and bass, that Fox most likely provided, turns a sobering R&B jam into something that is easily danceable, an added dimension that makes a dancefloor of a difference. The instrumentals, especially “Tutorials” also have that Fox charm surrounding them, and help introduce a little bit of plain gorgeousness.
Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung have to be some of the most talented future exports Australia has. On their own, they’re perfectly fine specimens of Australian music. But together, they’ve created a sharp and leisurely effort that will be able to satisfy most. They help each other, build off their own sounds, and slap each other with influence and progression.At ‘Café Romantica’, Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung are a special combination of lust, heartbreak, style and cool. It’s sophisticated pop at its best.
‘Café Romantica’ is out now on Chapter Music and Dopeness Galore. Andras & Oscar play together at Cut Copy’s curated Melbourne Music Week show, on Saturday 15th November, along with Roland Tings and NO ZU.