On their debut EP, Dutch quartet Sunday Sun celebrated power pop in all its glory and power pop fans across the internet – rather rightly – rejoiced. With regard to this second release, Sunday Sun could have chosen to deliver much more of the same, and those who loved the debut would have undoubtedly been very happy. That would have been the easy option, but not necessarily the right one – after all, bands shouldn’t really stagnate/settle for over familiarity so early on, especially a band with so much to give.
While the band’s core sound remains intact, this time out, Sunday Sun has wisely chosen to branch out a little. In fact, on ‘Take a Left’ the music packs a punch far harder than ever before. With Jan Teerstra’s bass firmly set to “fuzz” and Koen-Willem Toering’s guitar cranked, Sunday Sun totally rock out for thee and a half minutes on a tune which works itself around a stomping riff. When the chorus appears, the seventies pop vibes are far stronger – driven by a very strong McCartney/Wings influence – and the balance between fuzzy rock and pure pop makes this track a belter. On the first EP’s ‘I Love You So Much’, Sunday Sun dipped their musical toes into the world of the more melancholy. Although some enjoyed that short track, it doesn’t really prepare the listener for the much more epic ‘You’, a fully-formed, introspective number which, at first, sounds like it’s not going to go the distance. The tune – possibly inspired by similar marathons of misery from Big Star’s ‘Third’ – is slow and maudlin, and while the vocal is heartfelt, it just doesn’t seem to be able to hit its mark. …And then, something happens which completely turns the piece around: a couple of minutes in, Sunday Sun introduce a brass band arrangement, which adds that missing ingredient. Between the brass, the relatively minimalist tune and aching vocal, the song eventually becomes enjoyable in its sadness…but it is unlikely to become a fan favourite.
Although its intro comes drenched in harmony vocals, ‘Ready’ is not the Beach Boys pastiche you may be expecting on first listen. While similar harmonies are on hand to power the chorus, they do not actually provide the song’s main drive. That, instead, comes from another fuzzy bassline, which when pitched against a marching drum (supplied here by Wouter Rentema) could be likened to Jellyfish (as always). Although very much in the power pop genre, there’s something a little more raucous lurking underneath, giving a slight hint of 70s glam as well as the usual power pop. As with ‘Take A Left’, this slight toughening up of traditional power pop elements seems to really suit this band. Beginning gently with some echoing guitars, ‘Summer Holiday’ quickly gains a solid footing via a simply pounded drum and some handclaps. After the initial promise, it does very little else for almost four minutes, so it’s not especially gripping. While the end sound is as polished as most of Sunday Sun’s work, the melodies seem a little unfinished, as if they’re always waiting for that eventual big key change to kick in.
Listeners who wanted something more akin to the first EP will find plenty of thrills within the remaining couple of tracks. ‘Ordinary Love’ is a brilliant pop/rock tune, utilising handclaps, electric piano, sharp rhythmic acoustic strums and a very catchy chorus. Yoshi Breen is in brilliant lead voice throughout and – as with the best Sunday Sun tunes – an accompanying backing vocal choir gives everything a huge lift. With a sixties-esque beat – dressed up in the usual power pop revival way – ‘Now Is Now’, is a hugely uplifting tune that really brings out their best qualities. There are some tight harmonies on a very accessible hook, while the music breezes along with absolute abandon. Like The Genuine Fakes meets Fountains Of Wayne (and with another superb bassline) ‘Now Is Now’ is just wonderful – easily this second EP’s shining star.
Both ‘Summer Holiday’ and ‘You’ slow down this EP’s momentum, so upon early listens ‘II’ doesn’t always feel quite as strong as ‘I’. That said, ‘Ordinary Love’ and ‘Ready’ provide more great examples of Sunday Sun’s talent, further making their mark upon the genre, and ‘Now Is Now’ ranks among the band’s absolute best songs. If you enjoyed the first EP then ‘II’ will still be required listening, and if you have yet to acquaint yourself with this fine band…what are you waiting for?
[For a limited time, this EP can be downloaded FOR FREE from the Sunday Sun website: http://sundaysunmusic.com/ep2.html]