AUTHOR’S NOTE: This piece was written during a time of immense, distressing galvanization to our community–not just in music, but in the nation. More importantly, this was written at a time where we are yet again disgustingly reminded of the vulgar prejudice that the inept systems of our world direct toward the black community.  To our black brothers and sisters, and not just those that have given support for both UVC and myself, we stand with you. Now and forever will your fight be our fight.  May you find respite, if at least for just a fleeting bit of time, by connecting with us. As always, black lives matter. — Eddy

Sunburn is a name you haven’t heard, not yet that is, but this singer-songwriter has found himself in the midst of an emerging universal sense of nostalgia that has been prevalent for some time within the underground community. In the same vein that one finds themselves attracted to the niche sound of 100 Gecs or the more niche and emerging artists that emulate and have revived a sound paved by say… Crystal Castles and that genre’s ilk, the same can be said for Sunburn and those that long to find a refreshing take on the Warped Tour era of sound. 

On that note comes Sunburn’s debut album Fear and Loathing, almost entirely self-produced. A quick combing through Sunburn’s streaming profile shows that he has dropped a moderate amount of singles, but never a fully realized project, that is until now. Fear and Loathing is a compelling shift for the artist, and the album functions as an incredibly strong demo reel chock-full of various tracks that give a good indication as to what listeners can expect to come in the future. The album itself isn’t the most cohesive endeavor, but the experience of the project is still very rewarding as the listener gets to wander around the varying soundscapes that Sunburn displays. 

The opening track “Drake & Josh” is an easy listen. The track is ambiently produced, consisting of sharp dainty tones that make up the skeleton of the instrumentals, followed by typical rolling snare drums and keys. The lyrics are equally simplistic, but the lyrical charm of Sunburn is decently unique as he puts “sad boy” vocals into a new refreshing perspective. Within one song Sunburn manages to utilize his soft unbothered vocals to not only evoke a somber mood, but the way he references disparate things like Drake and Josh, gallows, first-person shooters, and The Departed is just the right amount of silly:

I’ve been on the loose // Try to tie me down and you’ll need a tighter noose… Just doing my thing, I don’t need a lot // Chilling with my baddie watching Drake & Josh // Keep on coming at me, hit you with a dropshot. 

That tongue-in-cheek demeanor doesn’t stop with the opener, but can be seen across the entire project–just look at the project titles. This isn’t to say the music is a novelty, or falls under that of someone looking to secure laughs from an audience to make up for musical mediocrity–but rather the lightheartedness is only more endearing in conjunction with the music. 

The next track “Nosferatu” introduces listeners to a more upbeat yet all the more emotional side of Sunburn, who is aided by vocalist IHATEPVRPL. This track features a strong up-tempo acoustic guitar aided by autotuned vocals courtesy of both singers. The track features loud and large vocals and bold layering on behalf of Sunburn and a contrastingly soft and simplistic melody from PVRPL. The more captivating element is the lyrics, which narrates heartbreak and discomfort in ear-catching rhythm:

So break me // You could never save me // Falling from your memory // Taking back everything you said. I cannot follow // all the places you’ll go // Slowly turning hollow // I can’t take it, help me escape.

The third track of note is one that comes at the project’s most jarring yet most gratifying point. Completely changing direction comes the abruptly loud track “The Door is Covered in a Hostile Strain of Starfish”, a refreshingly brutal metal song. As a growling vocalist, this is where Sunburn bares his teeth both sonically and tonally as this and the following track “Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot” feature a more unforgiving attitude. The sudden shift in energy is what succeeds in making this project one that’s full of flavor and subversions but at the same time, that variety causes audiences to either be drawn in or shut out. If the audience is keen on the vocal ability to belt out brash and unforgiving growls, then this track is pleasantly alluring. 

Sound is cyclical. The wonderful thing about the cycle is that with just enough patience, one is to find themselves exposed to the familiar sounds of their youth or similar eras where pleasure was at its peak. Sunburn does a remarkable job of capturing and re-imagining the sounds of alternative rock and post-hardcore that are evocative of these previously mentioned times. That particular sound isn’t all that Sunburn is capable of, as the album also features traditional hardcore tracks and one incredibly dreamy ambient track with “We All Float”. As a whole, the experience from start to finish can be slightly jarring and jumpy, but within the context of an 8 track debut album, the wide range of enjoyable tracks on here are only indicative of more refined sounds bound to happen down the line that are only teased across Fear and Loathing.

Run it up.