Sister Sonny: Lovesongs

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By Justin Stranzl

Everyone writes love songs. No one knows what popular music will sound like 30 years from now, but anyone can figure out what its dominant lyrical theme will be: love.

Since practically no record gets released without at least one love song, the theme can get pretty trite. And a full album of songs about falling for someone is often too much. Too much sap is, more often than not, unbearable. Anyone who disagrees with such a sentiment ought to look at Valentine’s Day for proof.

The boys in Sister Sonny know that any more than a little love is usually too much. So they’ve written an entire album—humorously dubbed Lovesongs—about not caring for the subject. Every song is about someone wanting to get with someone, but not really concerned with whether that happens or not. When vocalist Pedro Carmona-Alvarez lazily muses “OK, we could try, but it doesn’t make much sense,” on “Sonny & Clyde,” he summarizes his whole album.

On one hand, the concept is great. Sister Sonny’s ennui keeps Lovesongs’ boy/girl subject matter from ever growing intolerable. However, the lack of interest shown by the band gets passed on to its audience, and after five or six tracks Lovesongs becomes a bore. Disaffected lyrics lead to a disaffected listener, a shame considering how good Lovesongs is musically.

Think Luna, Mogwai or any of the other modern day My Bloody Valentines and you’ve got the sound of Sister Sonny. Dreamy, sometimes sampled guitars cradle around soft, whispered vocals, a trance-inducing style that at its best gorgeously mesmerizes but at its worst puts one to sleep. As stated earlier, the first half of Lovesongs works wonderfully but any further listening inevitably turns the album into background music.

Lovesongs would’ve been a great EP, but at 12 songs (10 tracks plus two unlisted bonus cuts) the album cannot possibly sustain its listener’s interest. None of Lovesongs is bad &#151 the album never becomes something one wants to turn off &#151 but too much of it does have a sterilizing effect. While the band’s often beautiful song structures are engaging for awhile, Sister Sonny’s steadfast disinterest in what it sings about keeps Lovesongs from being the Loveless it aims to be.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/sistersonny-lovesongs/