If there’s one thing that’s certain in this day and age it’s that nothing is quite like it used to be. Screens are larger, phones are smaller and beach pop isn’t just about surfin’ in the USA. No where is this more abundantly clear than on the latest Sonny & The Sunsets record, whose brand of self-proclaimed busted beach pop comes to a head via the 11-track record, Antenna to the Afterworld.
The sound of the album is best described as one that starts out early-60s but gets detoured into more recent territory along the way. The record’s basic instrumentals indisputably harken back to acts like The Beach Boys — finding a backbone in simple, unembellished electric guitars that are poppy and rhythmic layered on top of easygoing, underwhelming percussion. This serves to keep the album chilled out and laid back. It’s certainly not about creating the intense emotional connection some bands crave.
However, the album is by no means an imitation of a previous era. Sonny Smith’s vocals are a far cry from Brian Wilson’s nasally, wholesome pop sound, instead coming across tinny, restrained and at times, monotonous — reminiscent of the band’s claimed influence, The Clash. Meanwhile, novelties such as the conversation interlude in tracks like “Mutilator,” with the deadpan female counterpart, remind listeners that this is not just a record for he boys. Finally, the lyrics are not exactly innocent — they go beyond lamenting the realities of having to work hard, for example blatantly and openly addressing desire in the song “Primitive” with lines like “I want you bad/I don’t know why/it’s so primitive.”
All in all, it would be fair to say that Sonny & the Sunsets have a pretty good grasp on the stuff they’re putting out — busted beach pop is the perfect descriptor. One part beach pop, one part early punk, it’s a genre mashup that is sure to garner recognition in young and old audiences alike.