Sonny & The Sunsets - Talent Night At The Ashram - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Sonny & The Sunsets - Talent Night At The Ashram

by Rob Taylor Rating:4.5 Release Date:2015-02-16

Sonny & the Sunsets write music said to be inspired by warm nights lolling around Ocean Beach, San Francisco, sunset gazing and watching the monstrous rips pull the surfers around its watery vortex. I guess it makes demographic sense that the music is a kind of goofy, somnambulant 60s psych-folk. Like Dennis Wilson synergized with Jonathan Richman, and beamed through a kaleidoscope. Like if Tim Presley and White Fence hung out at the beach rather than in a dank basement.

The album kicks off with a couple of lines of Beach Boys-inspired harmony on ‘The Application’, but then flounces around with some fairly innocuous acoustic guitar and slightly grating synthesiser. The pleasant vocal harmonies interpose periodically over a lyric which implores the love of his life to consider his application for her affection: “I signed my name so hard/ I nearly broke my hand”. Geez, mate, I have to tell you, go easy on the social anxiety, and you may have more success.

‘Cheap Extensions’ increases the tempo with some neat jangle. Sunshine is spun across ‘Alice Leaves for the Mountains’, a song that succeeds at being melodically charming if not memorable. ‘Happy Carrot Health Food Store’, like ‘Talent Night at the Ashram’, is a title contrived to instil fear, and rather oddly includes an exchange between Sonny and his dog, which goes something like this:

Sonny:  “I missed you, I wish we were walking around, I wish we were talking about whatever “

Dog:     “Woof”

Sonny: “Really... But I thought I never heard [sic] from you again”

Dog:    “Woof, woof”

Sonny: “Then why did you go?”

[dog whines]

Sonny: “What, well, I’m going to swallow you” [scene ends]

Trippy. Incomprehensible. I suppose the two go together, but I’m not benefiting any from that dialogue. Evidently though, Sonny Smith wrote this music initially intending that it be used for a play. It was abandoned, and here it’s manifested in folk-pop form.

Talent Night at the Ashram is certainly chock-full of breezy melodies, but the overall effect is slightly ponderous, and lyrically banal.

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