What does Sunstroke Rain sound like?
A mixture of 90’s Europop, early indie pop and modern-day social commentary.
The review of Sunstroke Rain – Spark
Malmo-based art pop trio Sunstroke Rain revel in making undanceable lyric topics danceable. Using three keyboards, three vocal harmonies and a bass Moog, there is a very specific sound Sunstroke Rain chase. Part synthpop, part artsy indie pop and a side salad of jangly organs, it is an oddity that shouldn’t work but does.
The reason it works is that trio Karin, Olivia and Lisa all work together to ensure a song never stays still. “Superpower” for example is a mid-tempo darker, dramatic piece. If the thick Moog bass isn’t rocking your world, the lead vocal melody is calling out to you. When that’s not in charge carefully layered vocal loops and fire crackling around the keys. Elsewhere the circus tone to the percussive tongue drums and trip-hop beats of “Things” keep you off kilter. Nods to Eastern culture slip in as the girls sing of the emptiness of rich possessions.
In some ways, Sunstroke Rain reminds me a little of Imogen Heap and Mandalay. They fall somewhere between the two as their sound is much thinner and more direct than Heap’s but they have a spacious keyboard quality that soothes whilst you dance like Mandalay and Nicola Hitchcock. The space ballad “To Find You” is Mandalay-esque, whilst art pop upriser “Mad Men” is more Frou Frou. Early album tracks like “Fun”, “Heaven” and “Greta” break outside that though and feel like retro pop throwbacks. The cheesy drum beats sound straight out of the early 90s and the smaller synths feel purposely retro too. With my need for some good bass for these tracks to sell the drama, I’d have liked bigger Moogs. The opening of “Heaven” for example has an explosive Moog riff, setting you up for a banger. Sadly, once the other instruments come in, the bass pulls way back. It’s a stylistic thing and there’s no right or wrong way to do it – it just feels thinner and less impactful for me personally.
That nitpick aside, Sunstroke Rain has a knack for earworms and their ability to make their voice into a multiverse of instruments should be applauded. I also enjoyed the cognitive dissonance of singing about all our social problems whilst gleeful synths blast power chords. There is also a nostalgic element to the album for me too. Early 2000s indie pop was much simpler. You could have a couple of keyboard melodies and a beat and that was totally fine – you didn’t need 50 layers of sound. I think Sunstroke Rain’s music philosophy is the same as that era as if it can’t be done using three mics, they simply don’t do it. If you enjoyed early Freezepop, Mandalay or Frou Frou and like social commentary in your music, Sunstroke Rain should be on your playlists.
Recommended track: Mad Men
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