Hell yeah! Sonny and the Sunsets have been all over the “genre-spectrum” in past albums, but Antenna to the Afterworld takes the cake for originality—with a medley of the band’s classic country, garage rock, and even reggae vibes accompanied by a new use of synth. Antenna to the Afterworld has sounds that match its theme: a sort of cosmic love, the album riddled with ballads about a stranger seen from afar, an android on a distant planet, and a sword-swallower. The strangeness of this album is comparable to a Smith Westerns sounding version of the Toadies, a blend of two unique sounds that you won’t find in any other album.
Albums in general often seem to be known for being seasonal—some with upbeat summery vibes and others with subdued winter ambience, and everything in between. On the contrary, Antenna to the Afterworld doesn’t seem suited to any season, month, day, or any other human measurement of time. This album is so fun, and real fun! This album is carnival fun, and it won’t get old.
The album opens with “Dark Corners,” a laconic Kurt Vile-esque track—chilled out vocals layered over steady guitar riffs and minimalist synth. The next track, “Mutilated,” is more attuned to the rest of the album, with a more bizarre subject matter and carefree ballad feel. This song marks the start of the album’s quirky mid-song conversations that serve as a strangely charming trademark of Antenna to the Afterworld. Some of the lyrical conversation of the album is critical to its song’s meaning, like that of “Mutilator,” and “Green Blood” (which is maybe the coolest song of the past year), but then there are the little cute but unnecessary conversational remarks like the one at the end of Void following a shift in beat: “I like that part!” As a part of any other album, remarks such as those could be annoying, but as a part of this one they only add to the unending bizarre charm.
The more traditional tracks, if that can be said about any of them, still hold just as much of the allure as the others. “Girl on the Street” and “Path of Orbit” both have perfect melodies and showcase the true vocal talents of the band when they stray from dialog.
Antenna to the Afterworld is an album that could singlehandedly serve as the soundtrack of a Kurt Vonnegut book. It’s depressive and peculiar and hopeful and happy and above all, it’s satisfying. Sonny and the Sunsets have done a stellar job morphing past efforts and tacking on a bit of new and highly successful experimentation. All in all, a great album.