Every now and then, a new trend will form in the music scene. The 00s were wrought with alt-rock, the 10s saw a resurgence in retro-styled synthpop, and the more recent years have generated a variety of smaller offshoots of rock and pop.
Sun June appropriately joins the likes of MUNA, Yumi Zouma, Pale Waves, and Tiny Deaths in a niche of dreamy, female-fronted acts. This isn’t quite pop, nor is it quite surf rock. But whatever it’s called, it’s distinct, ethereal, and gaining ground.
The Austin five-piece weave haunting tales of life, love, and loss. The backdrop is metropolitan, with references to LA and New York City strewn about lyrically. Somewhere has urban class but rural sentimentality.
“Bad with time” set the bar high for the band as it opens the album. It’s an exercise of restraint – staccato guitar, glimmering keys, and minimalist drums maintain enough energy to catch attention airy vocals linger over the rest of the arrangement. It’s hazy and surreal. There’s a bright and summery quality here. But just beneath the bright veneer, there’s a sense of yearning and pain.
Mono no aware sentiment is in full effect here. It might be better to have loved and lost than never loved at all, but what about knowing love will end as soon as you find it? Can you truly enjoy a vacation when you know you’re be returning to a mundane routine before long? This is the sort of mood Sun June carry across these 11 tracks – one of beauty and hope offset slightly by uncertainty and regret.
Paired with this mood is a folk-adjacent approach to songwriting. The ideas here are never too obtuse to be understood by the typical listener. There’s a softness and vulnerability met with instrumental simplicity. It calls to mind the likes of Richard Edwards, though perhaps a bit less forward. Somewhere is equally real and refined.
“Bad with time” makes a lyrical nod to Stevie Nicks, and it’s frankly remiss to not acknowledge that the band seems to borrow a bit from Fleetwood Mac. “Once in a while” is a great example of this, especially prominent on the rhythmic end of things. Even so, it’s subtle enough and the crew certainly build new architecture upon this shared foundation.
Somewhere is a powerful album in its use of careful dynamics. It reminds me of classics like Richard Edward’s Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset or Nathan Phillips’ Postcard. It’s a blend of folk, pop, and surf. It’s nostalgic and pining. Sun June leave many questions unanswered, but such is the nature of life. This is more of a journey than a destination, but it’s a trip worth taking.