San Francisco-based synth pop band Sunset Lines was built on the foundations of a previous band that didn’t work out. Synth players Liz Brooks (vocals) and Paul McCorkle (producer) formed the band in 2015 after the “dramatic implosion” of their previous group. Brooks and McCorkle (who are also a couple and engaged) decided to form Sunset Lines in the wake of the band break-up, releasing an EP that was rooted in syth music but pulled influence from genres like psychedelic pop and new wave. After that record dropped in 2017, the band took a short hiatus during which Brooks and McCorkle toyed with the band’s sound. The result is a new collection of songs that see the band taking an even more synth-heavy direction, evocative of bands like New Order, The Cure and Tears for Fears.
Sunset Lines added new members Scott Smit (bass) and Ben Manning (drums), toured behind the new songs and built up a following, only to see their momentum dashed by COVID-19; members scattered around the country to be closer to family. Not letting a global pandemic stop them, the band worked remotely to finish a new EP called Home Anywhere, which is coming out on May 15. Today we’re premiering the first single from the new EP, a glittering, yearning track called “Unresponsive” that wears its ’80s influence proudly on its sleeve.
“This song also worked as a culmination of all of the sounds and recording techniques we’d taken into developing this album,” said McCorkle. “This is the single that really captures the essence of the driving pop and 80’s synth influences that helped create the basis for this EP.”
It’s not just the music that’s influenced by that time period either. The accompanying video, which was directed by Frank Door and produced by Carmen Yvette, is a brilliantly hued clip that has an intentionally lo-fi appearance. It’s as if someone in their 40s returned to their childhood home, dusted off an old VHS tape and popped it in the VCR, a perfect time-capsule into another era. Of course, Sunset Lines aren’t simply paying tribute to the ’80s – on “Responsive” they push the synth pop sound forward while honoring the past.
“One of my favorite things about songwriting, and something I really leaned into with this EP, is writing lyrics that have a sense of duality,” said Brooks. “We all draw our own meanings from songs, and oftentimes I think that we tend to project or identify with lyrics that mean something to us in the moment, but that we later wevfind out are about something else…or that somebody interpreted completely differently. That’s what inspired me when writing ‘Unresponsive’ – at first glance it seems to be about unrequited love, but in reality, the song was originally written based on my experience of getting ghosted while trying to find work when fresh out of school. Suddenly I realized the parallels of being vulnerable and putting your best foot forward only to be silently rejected without an explanation…an idea that just took off.”