Review: Sonny and the Sunsets – Moods Baby Moods

It’s a sunny day in San Francisco. The humidity makes this heat a thousand times less tolerable. I can see Sausalito from this low lit attic and I wonder: has it really been three years? The UFOs, the Greek woman, the endless slices of pie…

There’s no high watermark to wax poetically about and I can’t think of any pithy sentences; the review should be intricate when the album is deserving of one. The typewriter sits there, mercilessly pulling specks of dust to create a gestalt Dust Leviathan.

Drops of condensation slide down the pitcher full of some rank brew. Not a word will be written today. It’s too warm and I can’t even make heads or tails of it. “Heads or tales”. Nah, no more wordplay, I’m supposedly no longer an amateur.

Wait, how many adverbs have I used? There’s a crusade against adverbs, apparently. Enough of this. I grab Sonny and the Sunsets latest album, Moods Baby Moods. Produced by Merrill Garbus. Brace yourselves, for her style casts a division as strong as the Berlin wall and as futile as the Maginot line.

It’s a good mix, this. Not the cocktail, mind you, that is rank. I mean Merrill Garbus producing Sonny Smith and his cohorts. You can never quite put your finger on what Sonny & The Sunsets will produce, as they mutate with each day. Moods Baby Moods wants to be the eighties, assimilate Devo, and melt into plasticine figures that chase David Byrne into next October.

‘Modern Age’ is a gorgeous piece, with its funky beat that flashes into desperation several times. It does throw a curve ball by the end, when the drum machine fades away and a flurry of vocals erupt. This is the cue for ‘Well but Strangely Hung Man’, which sounds like something Max Bialystock would play with his octogenarian investors. I’d hate to use the term “summer jam” but it fits well, like a Hawaiian shirt with a De Stijl pattern fits Bermuda shorts.

Moods Baby Moods  is a fashionable pop album. As fidgety as Sonny and the Sunsets have always been, they narrow their ever expanding genre mix and shake inside a box, like a Mexican jumping bean that has had too much coffee. Incursions into less ethereal pop happen with tracks like ‘Reject of the Lowest Planet’, appealing to extraterrestrials that never fit the cliques. It’s like ALF‘s lonely high school years! ‘My little death’ is another recce through 80s indie rock, mixing Altered Images with Headlights (RIP).

Three years gone from that flurry of Sonny Smith reviews. Five if you count the moment it all broke down. Sixteen years in the music game. Sonny and the Sunsets will never marry a particular genre. They’ll never settle down, roaming around and around, wandering through the neon green desolation called “music genres” until they feel they’ve explored it all. Maybe then they’ll settle. Maybe they’ll keep experimenting until we all are dust and ashes. In the meantime, Moods Baby Moods is another look into their quest.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López.

Sonny & the Sunsets Website. Bandcamp. Twitter. Last.fm. Facebook.

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