All I know of Nico Santos prior to listening to Streets of Gold is that he is a singer, songwriter, and producer from Germany who has had a hand in many hits in that region. Oh, and because I am superficial that way, he’s kind of cute in a nerdy way, but I will have a hard time recognizing him should he pass me by on the street. This is his debut English album, and it’s… well, like his looks, this one’s not bad, but I probably won’t recall much of it in days to come.
Mr Santos has a nice, smooth tenor that can glide into falsetto in a pleasant way – Nick Jonas only wishes he can do the falsetto like Mr Santos – but the songs themselves are a bit bland. The title track is a melancholic ballad that sounds like many similar-sounding mournful dirges I’ve heard before. The uptempo songs like Love on Me and God Knows are alright, but these songs lack any interesting variation in the melody – they just feel like one long, long chorus repeated over and over, and his voice feels tad subdued to carry these songs successfully. New Days is probably what happens when he auditions to be a lead singer in Imagine Dragons – not bad, but like everything from Imagine Dragons, feels derivative.
When he has the right song, however, oh, how magic happens. Safe and After Party demonstrate that melancholy is Mr Santos’s hill to die a beautiful death on. The former has a bittersweet chorus, with a chilling kind of dichotomy in the uplifting melody and the desperation that permeate every word in the song. The latter is a haunting, melancholic song that, on the surface, is a sweet song of a soused dude asking someone he likes a lot to go someplace fun with him. Read a little deeper into the words, and I wonder whether it’s actually about a fatal overdose – perhaps the song encapsulates the final thoughts of someone who is slipping over into what he believes to be a better, happier place in the afterlife. Whatever one reads into the words, After Party captures both heartbreak and hope in one single melodious ball of feels, and it’s a fabulous piece of music.
As I’ve mentioned, I love Nico Santos’s voice – I always have a weakness for melancholic-sounding men who do the falsetto well – but the songs here are kind of hit and miss. Nonetheless, even the misses are very pleasant on the ears, so there’s that. I just wish there are more songs here that are like After Party and less of… well, the rest.
BUY THIS ALBUM Amazon UK