One Degree by Sunfruits –Album Review
One Degree by Sunfruits –Album Review
One Degree is the first full-length album by Melbourne-based band Sunfruits. Three years have passed since the release of Certified Organic and this is definitely worth the wait. Their previous EP had a playful ‘B-52s took a wrong turn at Perth’ vibe, but this album shows depth and maturity in their craft…more like ‘The Beach Boys take a trip to Manchester.’ Sunfruits is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Winter McQuinn, guitarist/vocalist Evie Vlah, bassist/vocalist Elena Jones, and drummer/vocalist Gene Argiro. They have the look, the sound, and the songs to give it a good go.
Self-described as psychedelic indie-pop, one would be tempted to compare Sunfruits to other Aussie-psych bands. Tame Impala, Pond, the Murlocs, and the Morning After Girls are part of this recent (compared to the psych heyday of the late sixties) brace of turned-on bands. Sunfruits is a dichotomy of happy, pop vibes pared with rye lyrical commentary on the state of the world and the certain doom that we must all face. Light and heavy mix together in a perfect balance that’s not too sweet or salty.
Sunfruits is a dichotomy of happy, pop vibes pared with rye lyrical commentary.
The lead track “Believe It All” is classic psych-pop. It features a Beach Boys-esque vocal melody in the chorus with a Beatle Paul bass progression. The track feels like you’re ambling down a country lane in the bright shine of midday. You might be wearing striped trousers.
“Made To Love” features the dual lead male/female vocals of McQuinn and Vlah which intertwine superbly together. It’s tambourine rock at its best, but the lyrics tell a tale of love enduring…at least until the world implodes.
The repeating ostinato bassline paired with a pseudo-sitar guitar melody of “Better Off Dead” reminds me very much of The Dukes of Stratosphear in the best possible way. Not harkening to any specific track on either of those two pseudonymous XTC albums, but just grooving on a 60s throwback vibe plugged into a modern framework.
With an uplifting and positive musical structure, the instrumentation and production on this album are sparkling with just the right amount of fuzz, synth, and reverb. The bass is tight and perfectly eq-ed. It’s hard to believe that this entire album was recorded in ten days in a converted
The instrumentation and production on this album are sparkling with just the right amount of fuzz, synth, and reverb.
living room. The band must have had the songs tight and together going in to get this sort of output within that time frame. To counterbalance the joyous musical feel, their lyrics deal with the inevitability of societal destruction. Happy, poppy musical vibes mixed with heavy environmental downer lyrics is an intriguing mix and takes insightful songwriting to pull the balance off. Sunfruits are more than capable.
The title track “One Degree” floats in with some sparse instrumentation and atmosphere. There’s a slow build and then it gently recedes, never climbing to any peak that is too rocky or raucous. Lyrically on theme, this song seems to ask, “If the world is truly ending, what can we do about it? How do you want to live your life as we reach the end?”.
“End of the World” is a love song about, well, the end of the world. The message of ‘Let’s enjoy the end of the world, as long as we do it together’ rings true to their songwriting vision. Musically, this is another driving pop-rock gem. The energy of the track sounds as though it could’ve been produced by Phil Wainman in the mid-seventies.
If Pond were a Madchester band, you would get “Reeling.” This is pure pop fun! The infectious, driving basslines and rhythms throughout the album are certainly attention-grabbing.
This is pure pop fun!
Dukes of the Stratosphear meets Violent Femmes? “Feeling Fine” is a snappy little ditty about plant love. What’s not to like about that? The song ends with a rollicking Wolfmother-style guitar/drum jam.
“Hello Future Me” is another tune with a Manchester-inspired beat. So many influences can be heard here, even a Perry Farrell delivery of the vocals. The band experiments with genres and textures to suit the needs of each piece. That hybridization is what pushes the music forward.
The next two songs play like early Ty Segall with sunny California vibes. That’s exactly what songwriter McQuinn was going for with “Spiders” and “Jasmine.” “Spiders” showcases a gorgeous string and bell arrangement that superbly complements the track’s dreamy feel. By contrast, “Jasmine” features a driving and dark bass paired with a fuzzy, synthy sound while it slowly builds into a layered crescendo that would make Jason Pierce proud.
The acoustic number “Warning Signs” finishes the album with some beautiful string orchestration. A nice comedown from the dance party in your mind. “Would it be the change you wish to see?”
One Degree features driving rhythms, infectious and positive melodies, and beautiful vocal harmonies. Sunfruits just happen to be blissfully singing about the coming apocalypse…all the while preaching love in the form of, ‘If we’re all gonna go down, I’d rather it be with you.’ Awwww.