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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Sun Airway debut album is crystal

It’s difficult to define what it is exactly that makes Sun Airway’s album, “Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier,” such a great find among the great swaths of independent artists clogging the Internet nowadays. It might be the record’s addictive and catchy composition, its unshakably feel-good mood and charming aesthetic or how the album sneaks up on you, gentle and unassuming, with beats and rhythms that’ll have you dancing in your car at stoplights.

This is an album that manages to combine the ethereal electronica sound of bands like Passion Pit and Animal Collective with the bouncy indie-pop of The Postal Service. Singer Jon Barthmus shines with his confident, echoing vocals that still bring to mind the longing lyricism of the Notwist with a dash of Coldplay.

It’s an easy album to pick up, and it draws in listeners with melodies so buoyant and light-hearted that the songs almost float in the air.

Listeners will have little trouble getting hooked into the sweeping melody of the opening track “Infinity,” a dreamy track that sets the tone well for the rest of the record, and by the time the album swings around to the eminently danceable “Your Moon” or “Put the Days Away,” it’s too late to resist.

Again and again, the densely layered tunes fold in synthesized, lightly computerized beats and wispy vocals that swirl into something beautiful.

As the album progresses, there’s no doubt that Sun Airway has managed to capture the same melancholy yet addictive sound that defines genre contemporaries like The Postal Service.

In capturing this dynamic, however, the album signals its biggest weakness.

While Sun Airway could do much worse in their choice of influences, there’s little space in the album for actual innovation. Though each song has its unique distinctions, some listeners will have their minds wandering as they think of how alike the songs seem, or may find fault in how there’s very little distinguishing the record as its own standalone work.

It would be far too harsh to write this off as derivative, but it’s hard to ignore how much of the music seems closely inspired by other bands.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, because there’s still no denying that the album is a great success in terms of just how enjoyable it is to listen to.

Make no mistake, “Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier” has an almost contagious allure threaded into its songs. Relaxing, yet fun; exciting, yet subdued. The album manages to hit a sweet spot that, while somewhat familiar, would be just as comfortable in the background of a study session as it would be playing in the car with the windows down.

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