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Album Review
Hit After Hit

Hit After Hit
by Sonny and the Sunsets

Fat Possum

Review Date
29th April
Reviewed by
Paul Gallagher

The sophomore slump doesn't seem to have been an issue for San Francisco beach hop troubadour Sonny Smith. The news that a follow up was scheduled after last year's outstanding 60s-esque surf rock standout Tomorrow is Alright (Soft Abuse, 2010) had me wondering where Smith and co. could take the project. In the midst of a surging San Francisco sand-shorn scene - including the likes of Ty Segall and Sic Alps, among others - you might expect there to be some level of pressure to stand out from the rest, to make a real effort to change tack and to throw caution into the on-shore breeze. But really, with the release of the audaciously-titled 'Hit After Hit', Sonny and the Sunsets have seemingly become more relaxed and comfortable within themselves.

It's not to say the sound's not changed at all - here they've picked up a more blues-influenced stomp element to go with the lo-fi beach fuzz retro-rock aesthetic they're already well known for. It's as if the band's shifted from around the bonfire on the sand to a more indoors setting of a bourbon-soaked dockside bar, where the boat shoes and chinos are still welcomed but sex appeal has become more pertinent. Opener 'She Plays Yo-Yo With My Mind' is a strong lead into the general feeling of the record as a whole - a delightfully light and carefree track about a topic which is cavalier, evoking that summer-romance feeling we've all desired at one time or another.

Sonny and the Sunsets have always had their theatrical side, and this record plays out like a 1950s or 1960s American high school drama - here there are bad guys in 'Teen Age Thugs' to ruin everyone's fun, romantic doubts and tribulations in 'Heart of Sadness', the sheer bravado of testosterone in 'Girl's Be Beware' and adolescent pleas for attention in 'Pretend You Love Me'. There's even the surf break competitiveness of the darkly violence-loaded instrumental 'The Bad Energy from LA is Killing Me', which evokes the nastier side of seaside living - where the locals have to put up with the out-of-towners stealing their sun bathing spots.

Really, Hit After Hit delivers just that. Not necessarily memorable songs in the wider sense, but a dose after dose of a necessarily fun and frivolous form of salt-sprayed pop. As we head into the coldest months of the year, this album will provide some solace with the knowledge that come summer romance with all its feelings of jangly guitar goodness and milk-bar jukebox pap is only a short while away.

I say embrace this record and run with it!


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