Austin five-piece releases their debut album
by Jeff McCord
So You Think You’ve Found Love?, the first full-length from Austin’s Sasha and the Valentines, eludes your usual indie-rock expectations. Lead singer and principal songwriter Sarah Addi might cite the Cranberries, Beach House, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra as influences, but the lived-in pop that spills out of the album seems more akin to a bygone era. Think Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry”, Dusty Springfield’s “Just One Smile”, or Nancy Sinatra’s “Some Velvet Morning” (which Addi admits is a favorite, along with her grandmother’s copy of the Moody Blues “Nights In White Satin”). This is an album that betrays some serious contextual planning. “I think that subconsciously came out of my like, well, love” Addi confesses, “of the movie musicals like West Side Story and The Sound of Music. And the kind of dramatic, beautiful, melodic songs that come out of those things.”
Their debut won’t remind you of these chestnuts, though, at least not directly. Co-produced by Erik Wofford (“He knew exactly what we were looking for production-wise”), the love concerns are quite modern, the balance between synths and guitars well maintained. Tracks like “Tears for Mars” and “Don’t You Love Me” border on psych-rock, but it’s also easy to imagine the keys on “Cry All the Time” and the mysterious “Witches” as a stand-in for a swelling string section. These tracks manage the trick of sounding both unique and timeless. “[That] is probably just from the long process of marinating that we give to all the songs,” says Addi,” taking our time writing things and absorbing and editing them.”
While Sasha and the Valentines is only three years old, the musicians all played together in college bands at UMass Amherst before discovering and converging in Austin, once they all decided to give music a serious go. “We had money to buy a tour van and we had this tour of Mexico planned. We were going to do another West Coast tour. And then [the pandemic] happened and we were like, ‘This doesn’t really have an end in sight. So let’s just spend the band money and actually work with Erik [Wofford] full on.” The result, So You Think You’ve Found Love, is an ambitious release that Addi promises will be taken on the road when possible. In the meantime, it’s ours to enjoy.