Album Reviews

Sonny & The Sunsets – Antenna To The Afterworld (Polyvinyl)

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Sonny & The Sunsets Antenna To The AfterworldA songwriter, playwright and writer of short stories, Sonny Smith is not your typical bandleader, and  Antenna to the Afterworld is not your typical new wave synth/post punk record. Actually, you can search in vain for comparisons. Yes, you can hear Lou Reed in some of the arrangements and bass lines, but Smith is, if anything, absolutely original. Who else makes death, the afterworld, android lovers and alien dogs their themes, wrapping them in restless, dramatic, gear-changing music arrangements?

After the murder of his close friend, Smith became obsessed with death, and a visit to a psychic later brought him into contact with another deceased friend. Throughout this seductive album, Smith likens himself to a space being visiting Earth—certainly an ingenious way of obtaining fierce objectivity and cutting observations. “Girl on the Street” is a stunningly simple and beautiful song about a homeless girl that’s wrapped in an immediately accessible major key. “Path of Orbit” captures the familiar music lines of the ʼ50s and early ʼ60s. “Primitive” is filled with echoes of Reed, as is the album’s closer and strongest cut, “Green Blood.” A song about falling in love with a space girl married to a cyborg? Yes, and it is triumphant. “My antenna went deep into the afterworld, and I searched for her,” he sings at the end. This is one trip that you don’t want to miss!

– Robert Myers

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