Album Review: Sonny and the Sunsets – Antenna to the Afterworld

sonny_antenna_to_the_afterworldOn the surface, Sonny and the Sunsets’ most recent album Antenna to the Afterworld is an immediately likable and enjoyable album. However, it also possesses deeper rewards within its earnest subject matter, conceptual explorations, and unadorned but catchy guitar and vocal hooks.

Antenna to the Afterworld is the proper follow up to last year’s Longtime Companion, separated by the release of 100 Records Vol. 3, an album of material composed by Sonny, but released under the monikers of many different created artist identities. For the 100 Records project, Sonny Smith designed and conceived 100 different 7” records and then set out to create music for each artist and record. It’s this kind of deeply conceptual and venturesome undertaking that makes Smith profound as an artist. Antenna to the Afterworld isn’t much different. The album is an exploration of the emotions surrounding the loss of one of Smith’s close friends as well as a thematic investigation of outer space and the afterlife.

Musically, the album employs straightforward arrangements with simple but evocative guitar and vocal hooks that recall Big Star, Silver Jews, or R.E.M. with roots stretching back to Velvet Underground and The Modern Lovers. The album’s first six songs maintain a cohesive feel that remains true to these influences and possess similar song structures and arrangements. Of these, single and opener “Dark Corners” stands out with a developed arrangement and laid-back pop. But each song possesses its own merit, such as the smooth croon and easy balladry of “Path of Orbit.”

The record’s latter five tracks don’t feel out of place, but branch out in divergent directions. There’s the surfy, Feelies-esque track “Death Scene” that clocks in at less than a minute and a half; the eerie, angular post-punk of “Primitive;” distorted, lo-fi pop on “Void;” the early-60s-pop-influenced “Earth Girl,” and the narrative, talky ambling of weirdo closer “Green Blood.”

Antenna to the Afterworld offers everything one could want in a pop record and fans of the aforementioned bands will find themselves falling fast in love. It’s an album void of posturing and rich in fun, upbeat song craft. Sonny and the Sunsets have long been a celebrated part of a tier of underappreciated and beloved bands. If you’ve been a fan, you won’t be disappointed, and if you haven’t been paying attention, it’s time you start.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

Pop Press International © 2018 All Rights Reserved

All photos licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress