It's deceptive, how simple Alien Sunset sounds on an initial listen.
Cut Worms' debut EP puts a lo-fi lens on the melody-driven songwriter-pop of the '60s, using acoustic guitar, voice and deep-in-the-mix instrumentation to conjure six songs of love and longing.
Split into two city-inspired sides — lone bandmember Max Clarke's time in Chicago and New York, respectively — Alien Sunset showcases an impeccable knack for melody. Clarke imbues the Beatles-ish "I Don't Want to Say Goodbye" with effortless vocal hooks and nimble guitarwork, while "Widow's Window" reaches into more sombre storyteller territory.
The lo-fi production's careful additions deepen Alien Sunset. The quiet weight of "Like Going Down Sideways" is amplified by jingles and backing vocals that lend it shimmer and depth. "A Curious Man" finds a sinister tone in its bass-led shuffle, and the title track sneaks a subtle handclap rhythm to improve a simple song's groove without drawing too much attention to itself.
Alien Sunset could be mistaken for a straightforward nostalgic romp — it does firmly anchor itself in the sounds and styles of yesteryear — but Clarke's songwriting offers simple strength and subtle complexities that reveal themselves on repeat listens, making Alien Sunset feel timeless, rather than like nostalgic reaching. (Jagjaguwar)