Alright, confession time.
Sunny, Sonny was one of my most anticipated albums of 2019, and when it released I was definitely going to write an album review. However, when it released I kind of froze. Is this album full of bangers? Yes. Is it deep? Yes. Is it groundbreaking? Yes. Is that one guy who tweeted at me that they’re a mediocre Glass Animals wrong? Yeah! I kid… guy who tweeted at me, you’re entitled to your opinion (insert The Big Lebowski Jeff Bridges meme here).
In short, I kept putting off this review because I was afraid I’d do it injustice. Folks, let this be a lesson—don’t get caught in “analysis paralysis.”
When approaching an album like Sunny, Sonny., it’s easiest for me to focus on the feelings that surface while listening more so than the lyricism—something that’s easy to do when songs are as layered as these.
Samy Sharif has a very distinct way of spitting fire that is neither Soundcloud hip hop a la Juice World nor emo-hip hop a la Nothing Nowhere. There is a distinct pattern in many Bonelang songs of Samy’s tone getting increasingly desperate as the instrumentals build to a climax… or leave you hanging. The latter effect occurs at the end of “No Cursing the Weather.” We also hear this notably in lead single “Anvil” during the second verse. Matt Bones supplements with soulful vocals throughout that are as smooth in delivery as Samy’s are urgent.
The highlights of the album for me are definitely the first two tracks: “Tidal Breathing” and “Yellow Teeth Da Di.” These two tracks form the best one-two punch of album openers in recent memory. “If you peel back all my skin, you’ll see I’m a real work of art” is going to be one of those lines that sticks out in my mind as a lyric defining 2019. Great art often comes from great pain, and getting to that point can be carthatic once you get past all the discomfort—and boy, is “Tidal Breathing” cathartic! If your adrenaline isn’t pumping after a spin or two of this song you might not have a soul.
There’s enough lyrical depth in this album that I could probably write an entire dissertation on it, so I’ll tread lightly. Who is Sonny? Who is Sunny? Are they the same person? Are they states of mind? The answer to all of those is probably “yes.” There’s a bit of exegesis going on in this record that mixes Christian-inspired spirituality and life anecdotes. Spiritual life lessons are found in the good, the bad and the ugly; everything has a purpose if you look for it. That’s what I get from diving deep into these words. “I wanna wear you like a personality, so badly!” is cry from within that forms the hook of “Lil’ Baby Elephant,” an exploratory song that describes whatever overarching power Bones and Samy ascribe to. For me to speculate here feels almost inappropriate, but when I approach from my Christian worldview and apply their words to my own interactions and perception of God, it helps me.
Sonically, there’s a ton going on, as I alluded to earlier. I saw one of the guys mention on social media not too long ago that they could take on most genres effectively, wishing to abstain from egotism—and honestly, he’s probably right. Bonelang aren’t quite pop. They aren’t quite emo. They rock hard in moments, they always exist within a big time groove. I’ve been on a nighttime music kick recently, and certain songs on this album would certainly fit that vibe if you put them on the right playlist.
Overall, this album makes me feel like I have so much more I want to say about but no clue how to articulate it. So, I’ll just urge you to listen.