Sonnymoon, comprised of multi-instrumentalist Dane Orr and singer Anne Best, formed at the Berklee College of Music and, since that initial meeting, they’ve dropped a couple of EPs (Golden Age and 2012) and covers of both Beyoncé and Drake. Often described with some hyperbole as sounding as if they’ve come from another planet, they’re not exactly the most straightforward and immediate of musicians either. Their debut self-titled LP is one that is puzzling, slightly strange, sometimes irresistible and a bit frustrating.
It weaves and slinks its way from point A to point B at its own speed. The pace changes often but never so much that it comes across as disorientating. Its influences seem to be remarkably diverse too. From the relaxed jazz vibes of Kali to the dubstep-esque beats of Every Summer Night to the gorgeous ambience of album closer Just Before Dawn, there’s subtle differentiation; and each track has its own unique personality. When they are at their best, the results can be electric; there is an irresistible energy and verve to songs like Greatness and the looping Flit, Fleet, Float.
Given how minimal it all sounds, the vocals shine brightly. Not only are they enticing, hypnotising and mysterious but also melodic. Sometimes it’s not necessarily words but chants and harmonising that hits the spot. The phrase “Please make sure your water’s boiled” is a baffling and banal lyric to sing but Best makes it sound bizarrely infectious on Watersboiled. She also single-handedly prevents many songs from meandering too much.
Ultimately, it’s this tendency to allow the music to float around without a clear path to go down that makes the overall result a little repetitive after a while. There’s being eerie and atmospheric and then there’s coasting, and there’s definitely filler hereabouts. Something heavier in the mix would add at the very least some presence.
That said, Sonnymoon are still very much an enigma at this stage. This debut album could easily slip through one ear and out the other if you don’t pay enough attention to it but, when you do, certain aspects of their sound jump out. You get the sense that there are more fruitful ideas trapped inside the creative minds of both Orr and Best that will, hopefully, be unleashed in the future to enhance this perfectly fine and individual aesthetic that they’ve worked so hard on building. As it is, this debut is something to admire rather than love.