Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Sunshine Factory - Sugar & Sway - This Was Tomorrow (2011, Saint Marie) - a brief evaluation

If you stopped following the dream pop circuit when the major labels bailed on virtually every single downward staring signee by the mid-90s, then you've missed out on a cornucopia of hundreds of entries that have opted to go DIY, or for that matter slug it out on the many indie imprints that would have them.  The Sunshine Factory and Sway are representative examples of shoegazer "revivalists" (so to speak) one charting a relatively conventional course, with the latter rolling the dice - both to satisfying effect. 

The Sunshine Factory are denizens of Mobile, AL, an unlikely locale for a duo delivering all the requisite dream pop earmarks we've come to know and expect.  On Sugar, the Factory's second outing, we're divebombed with globs of woozy, penetrating tremolo, and swells of swarming syncopation.  Unsung yank’s like Fudge, Black Tambourine, and Drop Nineteens seem to provide more inspiration to S/F than the genre’s more renown Anglo mainstays and good on them for it (though shades of the Boo Radleys manage to sneak in through the factory gate).   Sugar is seeped in traditionalist, Shoegazer 101 aesthetics, but Factory deftly blend in some shifty electronic tricks, never overpowering mind you.  And would you just listen to the juicy, plump hooks that propel "Domino" and "My Sugar Cane" into melodic overdrive.  Sugar is a killer confectionery. 

Moving from the sweet to the sweetly-surreal, Sway have been kicking around Ventura, CA for over a decade, evolving from a quartet to what is presently a solo vehicle for Andrew Saks.  The unsuspectingly enlightening This Was Tomorrow falls on the heels of a handful of eps dating back to 2006.  Billowy, rhythmically aware, and deliriously ethereal to a fault, this corker of a debut suffers from a staggering embarrassment of sublimeness (let alone riches), and as far as I'm concerned we wouldn't have it any other way.   ...Tomorrow is a pristine, gale force surge of disorienting, blissed-out dream pop, basking in the digital glow of soft keyboard treatments that unfurl and erupt with astonishing frequency.  My Bloody Valentine melded with a touch of Owl City?  Sort of.  New Order on a Swervedriver bender?  Perhaps.  Saks has a damn near-perfect thing going, but I would probably nix the vocoder (or whatever device he's applying that sounds like one).  It's difficult to pick a favorite song here, but I'd sweat it down to "What I Know" or "Nucifera."

No comments: