The ongoing dispute over explorer Cristobal Columbus’ nationality shows some country disputes will stay unresolved, but others are born to harmonise, in the case of Cristobal and The Sea. The London-based union of Alejandro ‘Ale’ Romero (bass, vocals, Spain), João Seixas (guitar, vocals, Portgual), Leïla Seguin (flute, vocals, Corsica/France) and Joshua Oldershaw (drums, UK) harnesses an altogether fluid, rhythmic and exquisitely melodic energy as colourful and evocative as their band name, forged from different strands of DNA, primarily bossa nova, Afro-pop and Western folk and rock, but even here it’s varied, as muchAnimal Collective as it is Arthur Lee’s Love.
This European concoction was first tasted on Cristobal and The Sea’s five-track EP debutPeach Bells in December 2014, and now it’s their equally stunning debut album Sugar Now, out now via City Slang.
Ale, João and Leïla were all international students at Loughborough University; the boys were flatmates who felt somewhat apart from what they discovered to be a sports-heavy campus, and so would often stay in, hosting house parties and jam sessions for friends. Leïla came to one of them, yet it was another year of jamming before the idea of a bona fide band was floated.
But after moving to London after graduation, Cristobal became real. João and Ale flatted with, among others, Josh, which was handy as the trio were searching for a live drummer to replace their drum machine. The quartet’s initial gigs soon paid off, with a publishing deal leading to City Slang, who teamed them with Brooklyn producer Rusty Santos (Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Beach House).