Treasure Fleet is a Chicago band with a sound heavily influenced by a sprawling number of rock bands from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The Sun Machine consists of eight songs that are all over the map, stylistically, but feel firmly grounded in those eras. Except for maybe “Max 2”, which contains lyrical references to “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, “Mrs. Robinson”, the Kinks’ “Maximum Consumption”, Harry Nilssen’s “Put the Lime in the Coconut”, and, anachronistically, Queens of the Stone Age’s “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”. The album is an entertaining pastiche, though, from the Queen-like prog-pop of “The View From Mt. Olympus” to the catchy, beat-driven single “Settle Your Mind”.
The only time the band stumbles is when they back off the tempo and get quiet and spacey. “The Wolf” at least has a decent guitar riff that periodically shows up, and “The Mushroom Hunt” has a pretty good melody. But the six-minute “Sirens of Titan” combines three minutes of synth ambience with a not-very-good David Bowie-style ballad. At least the record ends on a bright note, with the climactic “A Soft Landing”. The Sun Machine technically functions as the soundtrack to the Treasure Fleet-created short film of the same name. But since the film is a dialogue-free, impressionistic, retro sci-fi piece that lasts exactly the length of the album (minus credits), it really seems like the movie was written to go along with an existing collection of songs. But since the band itself created the music and the film, I suppose it doesn’t really matter.