Sonnymoon - The Courage Of Present Times - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Sonnymoon - The Courage Of Present Times

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2015-03-27

It's not often an album comes along that is truly genre-defying, but duo Sonnymoon have managed to pull it off with their latest set, The Courage of Present Times, a spaced-out, yet quite focused effort. For starters, it's impossible to tell how seriously they take themselves, as the music can flip from earnest and soulful to rollicking and goofy in an instant.

Then there's the wildly varying instrumentation, provided by mad genius Dane Orr, sometimes a cluttered, splattering monstrosity, sometimes almost non-existent. The percussion will stumble, then pick itself up and hurry ahead. The synths will tinkle like jewels, glide along like electrosilk, or squeal like a banshee. Ocassionally, it does all three in a row, or even at once.

And the vocals! At her most sincere, Anna Wise's voice suggests the country-tinged stylings of Rilo Kiley ('Blue'), while her weirder excursions bring to mind the experimentation of Miranda July or Róisín Murphy ('For Right Now'). It's impossible to know what to expect from moment to moment.

The all-over-the-place efforts are mostly successful. The minimalist 'Grains of Friends' trips along a sparse, jazzy bass, even sparser hand-clapping beats, and oasis-in-the-desert guiter licks, and is carried by Wise's insistent voice over a faded, incoherent backdrop of children yelling and playing. 'Sex for Clicks' is a sultry, slow-paced piano piece that would be right at home in an smoke-filled martini bar somewhere in the 1940s.

'The Only Face' starts out sounding like the house-band for a suburban mall, with Casio-esque keyboard chords and ra-ra cheerleading by Wise, before grinding synths and an almost Spanish-sounding guitar blend into the mix, leaving the listener bewildered. One of the few mistakes on the album is the liminal 'Trust Fall', which only comes to the point for the last 30 seconds or so, in a finish that has little to do with the rest of the song.

The album ends strong with the tribal rhythms of 'Transparent Times', which starts as a 1960s space meditation before chanting choruses bring it back to Earth. When blurting, wah-wah synths come punching into the finale, there's nothing to do but nod and smile.

Rarely has an album clocking in at barely more than half-an-hour seemed like such a journey. The Courage of Present Times is not for everyone. It's just too plain weird in a lot of spots, with few analogues in the audio realm. But for the open-minded and bold, it should be a rewarding listen, as it offers one of the most novel listening experiences in recent memory.

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