Photo by Chloe Aftel
As you can probably guess, Sonny & The Sunsets can be pretty sunny. Lead singer and songwriter Sonny Smith writes pop songs that are delightfully low-key and low-stakes, songs about dreams and having fun–that is, he did until last year. His long-standing relationship with his girlfriend dissolved, leading Smith into something of a downward spiral, but the trauma truly focused his sound. The result was Longtime Companion, a straightforward country-pop album that dialed back the cheekiness in favor of something more heartwrenching.
Sonny & The Sunsets are nothing if not musical chameleons, though, capable of changing their hats on a dime where the emotion fits. Following the death of a close friend, Smith once again channeled the trying times into his music. He sought out psychics for information on the after life, which ultimately led to the new album’s title: Antenna To The Afterworld. Out June 11, the record finds the Sunsets trading Stetsons and pedal steels for skinny ties and synthesizers. It may sound like a big switch, but Smith’s songwriting keeps it from becoming pure pastiche. On “Palmreader,” Smith sings of lost love and a life that’s less than ideal, according to the titular character. The pulsing, new wave beat that underscores the track is irrelevant, especially to longtime Sunsets fans. The band is just out to capture a great song whatever the genre, and they’ve done it once again.
*Note: This song has language that some listeners may find objectionable.