Back to the Past
San Francisco psychedelic-indie outfit Sleepy Sun experienced a change between albums that transformed the complexion of the group. Singer Rachel Fannan left, citing artistic conflicts, allowing co-vocalist Bret Constantino to spread his wings. In one fell swoop with new album Spine Hits the band evolved from jammy folk-rock, more in line with artists like the Head and the Heart or Damien Rice on pot, to a throwback to early alt-rock and post-punk outfits like the Replacements and Stone Roses.
It’s hard to believe that ’90s sounds can be retro, but there is nothing on Spine Hits that sounds like it wasn’t influenced by anything from the past 15 to 20 years. Opening number “Stivey Pond” combines elements of slow grunge with a echo-enhanced bridge that sounds like something from the 70s. Constantino’s voice has more than a hint of Perry Farrell, further bringing that era to mind. Second song “She Rex” is too catchy to ignore, at least until it slows down for another trippy break.
The rest of Spine Hits combines super-mellow moments with riffs and guitar sounds that bring to mind the heyday of college radio. There are several well-crafted hooks and Constantino’s timbre is infectious, however the album as a whole is somewhat forgettable. It makes an impression while listening and you will remember that you liked it, but an hour later you might not quite recall any specific songs. Sleepy Sun comes across like a band trying to find a new sound, and have started by looking in their own CD collections.