In his latest outing with The Sunsets, singer/songwriter Sonny Smith takes a large departure from last year’s more country tinged Longtime Companion after the murder of a close friend. This time around, Sonny Smith decides to take on the guise of an alien visiting earth who reflects on love and mortality. As such, the music on Antenna to the Afterworld is pretty heavy on the synths and incorporates some cool drum patterns and bass grooves, which all makes for a fairly interesting garage pop album.
Most of the tracks on here are a little mellow, which causes the album to drag a bit, but the fact that a good portion are kind of catchy makes up for it a little bit. For example, the opening song and first single “Dark Corners" epitomizes this. It hooks you with a great opening but doesn’t really go anywhere after that. But “Palmreader” has an awesome opening riff, and once the chorus hits it’s really easy to sing along. The first refrain is even followed up by this really interesting guitar solo. And the next track “Path of Orbit” adds some needed diversity to the album. It’s an acoustic power ballad that instantly causes you to reach for that lighter and wave it in the air for the next few minutes. Then out of nowhere comes “Death Scene.” The cut-time instrumental picks up the pace out of the necessity to keep the listener awake, and as such barely lasts over a minute, much to my chagrin. The most danceable song comes toward the end with “Earth Girl.” It channels surf rock to perfection, and you can’t help but want to shake those hips when you hear it.
The unsung hero of the album might be Tahlia Harbour. Having a female voice back up Mr. Smith and harmonize with him definitely helps to round out the songs and adds variety to the sound heard on each track. And while it may be a bit off putting to some, her deadpan conversations about stuff like hanging with other dudes on “Mutilator” or romantic affairs with space chicks on “Green Blood” are still different enough from anything else you would expect to appear on a song that it's still fairly noteworthy.
While Antenna to the Afterworld won’t blow any minds, top any lists, or win any awards, it’s still a pretty intriguing concept album and if anything is at least worth a listen. Sonny Smith writes some impressive lyrics and pairs it with solid musicianship, putting together an album that deserves a bit of recognition at the end of the day, however slight it may be.