Antenna to the Afterworld
Reviewed by Stephen Krock
In this latest offering to the indie music gods from Sonny & the Sunsets, we tap into an alien perspective of our world. And I’m not speaking in metaphors; although, the album Antenna to the Afterworld is rife with them. The storytelling prowess of the eponymous Sonny Smith, musician and playwright, steals the show here. Which is not easy to do, as the music sounds pretty darn good in its own right.
Smith starts to spin his sci-fi yarn by adding an electronic tinge to his voice and proclaiming, “I can’t wait to find my little place / In your weird world” in the new wave “Dark Corners.” It’s immediately followed by the sound of 60s pop rock in “Mutilator,” in which Smith has found himself in the lair of a “sword swallowing” woman who “sends shivers down my spine.” The profound shift in tone is jarring and very welcome. As is the alterna-rock summer anthem, “Palmreader.” “Every year they say the end is near / But we’re still here.” Can I get a hells yeah?
For the remainder of Antenna…, Smith does his best Bob Dylan and warbles through the next handful of folksy ballads. Raving about the “graveyard of my youth” in “Natural Acts” and joyously paying homage to a young homeless woman in the great “Girl on the Street.” Seamlessly, his voice slips on some 60s punk and he goes from Dylan to Ramones in “Void,” which is a raucous good time. Best on the album. The cacophonous beach party jam, “Earth Girl,” being a close second. The final track, “Green Blood” gives us a sung-spoken exchange of dialogue, which we got an awesomely tantalizing sample of in “Mutilator.” It tells the tale of a tragic android love affair and is a perfect coda to Smith’s story.
Antenna to the Afterworld is strong, start to finish, but even though the music is top notch, none of it stuck with me like the lyrics and the story. It’s what makes this album just shy of amazing.