Sonny and the Sunsets Antenna to the Afterworld

Sonny and the Sunsets Antenna to the Afterworld
8
"I can't wait to find my little place in the real world," sings Sonny Smith on his latest album with the Sunsets, Antenna to the Afterworld. Smith is referring to new romance, but the line from the record's opening track, "Dark Corners," doubles as a manifesto for the San Francisco musician, who's spent the majority of his career dabbling in the past. While Smith an co. have always differentiated themselves from their similarly-minded Bay Area peers, Antenna is the first record where they don't consciously wrap themselves in retro-pastiche. The first clue is the keyboards, which are subtly worked into almost every track. Yet, unlike too many indie bands these days, Smith isn't interested in making synth-pop; he simply wants to add to his already formidable arsenal of sounds. It's a nice touch that's never distracting. More clues are found on numbers like "Natural Act," where Smith sings about the "graveyard of my youth," positioning himself at the nexus of self-conscious hedonism and self-aware reflection. With Antenna, it's clear that Smith is no longer willing to hide behind genre and style tropes as he did so perfectly on his 100 Records project. In joining the "real world," he's crafted his best album yet. (Polyvinyl)