Seattle-based duo Dark Time Sunshine has been away for a while. Their latest offering, LORE, arrives nine years since their last and distain for the current state of everything permeates through the music. Propelled by psychedelic breakbeats and the jaded optimism of early Rhymesayers, LORE is down but far from out. Lead by Onry Ozzbourn, Dark Time Sunshine blends whirlwind flows with melodic and grisly beats for a listen that’s refreshing every time.
Onry’s bruised and sheltered viewpoint is clear and volatile. This record is aggressive from the start. “Ritalin” offers diary entries at a breakneck pace, “I guess this means I’m a sailboat, alone on a body of water trying to stay afloat.” However, the persistent use of text language on that song is a little clunky. This lyrical trick is used more than once on the record with diminishing results. There’s a delectable variety of flavors in the beats, but there’s too much salt in the kitchen. Onry eagerly embodies his namesake on “7 Knots” and “Star Scream”, where he’s aimed at teaching us rather than rocking with us. “The Rite Kids (feat. R.A.P. Ferreira and Homeboy Sandman)” suffers the most from this old-head approach. It seems odd to bring such vibrant mc’s onto a track about how ungrateful the younger generation is. It is worth noting that, while an odd pairing, the contrasting results are reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest with Ferreira and Sandman sounding like Phife and Q Tip, respectfully.
The features work nicely against Onry’s consistent discouragement. There’s also a nice reunion with Hail Mary Mallon on “Poor Pavel”. Here, the downer theme is elevated by some truly eclectic guest verses. Rob Sonic stars his verse off like a beast being awoken from slumber, while Aesop continues to hike deeper into the “wilderness” era of his songwriting. Their colorful diversions act as delightful detours on a consistently somber excursion. It’s odd people are still writing songs like “Pavel” in the first place, as the conceit is based around pitying someone’s downtrodden life.
Luckily the album does a complete 180 after that. The sheer brightness of “Look at Her Go” is undeniable. Producer Zavala crafts a playful pattern for Onry and company to lay their stuttered hook over. Here, Onry is nearly Shakespearean, “It’s almost as if you’re Prague in human form.” Familiars, the highlight of the record, sounds straight out of Kendrick’s Untitled-era in the best way possible. The bubbling hats and snares rattle a dark shuffle, laced with an intoxicating refrain that is guaranteed to stick with you. The group vocals of “Better Off” quench the thirst for brevity and close the record off on a truly resonating note of optimism.